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Major insect problem

May 19 2017 at 4:31 PM
Dan  (Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

A couple days ago I noticed a couple of the zinnias I had just planted had partially skeletonized lower leaves. I sprayed them with a pest spray to stop further damage. Today, there's barely anything left of either plant. Nearly all leaves have been skeletonized by some kind of insect. That sucks enough. Then, I noticed one of my 'black & bloom' plants a couple feet away also had a few skeletonized lower leaves. Cheap zinnias are one thing, but I'll be furious if my good salvias get eaten. This issue doesn't even stop there. Ten feet away on the other side of the zinnias, my two newly-planted salvia coccinea are both partially shredded. In front of them, a newly-planted lantana is partially shredded. The one thing these plants all have in common is the mulch I surrounded each of them with. This is the same mulch from the same source I've bought for fifteen years and I've never had any trouble, but this could be disastrous if I can't put a stop to the mystery insects. I pulled the mulch away from the plants, and I'll do more spraying, but I don't know what else I can do. Covering the plants at night wouldn't help if the insects come from the ground. Any ideas? I've never experienced anything like this.
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a

 
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Rhonda
(Login rvird01)
Hummingbird Lover 2014

Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 5:43 PM 

Dan,

I'm not sure where you are located, but in Ohio I had similar damage from Japanese beetles. I hand picked adult beetles and smooshed them when I saw them. I also put up traps that attract them. Here's a link to similar traps:https://www.harrisseeds.com/products/04556-Japanese-Beetle-Trap-with-Bait?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=**LP%20-%20Shop%20-%20Bing%20-%20Supplies&utm_term=4577816662673853&utm_content=045560000900%20%7C%20Japanese%20Beetle%20Trap%20with%20Bait%20%7C%20%2424.95 You can usually find traps at Lowes, Home Depot, Ace or Tru Value or even Walmart.

They start as grubs in the lawn and may require insecticide treatment on the lawn.

Here's a link to some info from the University of Kentucky:https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef451 and one from the University of Minnesota:http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/japanese-beetles/

Please let us know what you find out. Good luck.

Rhonda
Englewood, Florida 10a

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Kathi and Michael Rock
(Login kathirock)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Re: Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 6:13 PM 

Dan, I'm so sorry about your plants---major bummer!! If you could post any photos of the plants, that might be helpful in identifying the pest.

Rhonda, it's way too early for Japanese Beetles. We typically don't see our first in Wisconsin until the end of June. It must be something else.
Michael and Kathi Rock
Madison, WI
Zone 5

[linked image]

 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 7:35 PM 

Perhaps slugs?

Go out at night with a flashlight and look for slugs and other night pests.

Ken
Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)

 
 
Dan
(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 7:37 PM 

I'm going to go out tonight to check. Hopefully, I can see something.

OT.... just realized my longtime signature info has disappeared.
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a


    
This message has been edited by hawkeye_wx on May 19, 2017 9:19 PM


 
 
Indy Steve
(Login SteveWnindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 9:06 PM 

Bummer for sure I hope you can find out what the pest is, good luck.
Steve
Martinsville In.
Zone 6

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Pete
(Login Sundodger)
Hummingbirders 2010

Re: Major insect problem

May 19 2017, 9:42 PM 

Dan, cheap and easy fixes for slugs.

1. Crushed egg shells. Rinse, dry and crush them. Spread them around the base of the plants. Cover the area pretty good, the crushed shells will cut the slugs when they try and crawl across them.

2. Take a beer bottle, drink 2/3 of the beer. Lay the bottle on it's side near the plants. Slugs love beer, they will crawl in and you can dispose of them in the morning.

Hopefully it is slugs as they are much easier to get rid of without expensive sprays.
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Green Bay, WI
Plant Zone 5

 
 

Kathi and Michael Rock
(Login kathirock)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 1:32 AM 

Dan,

I was curious to see a photo of the damage, but slugs would make the most sense with all the rain we've had this spring. Slugs just love wet and damp (although I've never seen them eat salvias before.) I hope you can identify what is going on and get this under control. Good luck!!

[linked image]
Michael and Kathi Rock
Madison, WI
Zone 5

[linked image]

 
 
Dan
(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 4:00 AM 

I just went out at 2:30am to check the plants. The culprit is earwigs, lots of little ones. I had my two small salvia coccinea 'red nymph' covered with pots to keep the rain off. When I uncovered one of them earwigs were covering the plant, further shredding the leaves. I already sprayed these plants before dark, so the spray on the leaves obviously didn't faze the earwigs one bit. Maybe the spray was too old(10 years). I used a new batch of the same spray (main ingredient is permethrin) on the earwigs themselves just now, and soaked the soil around the plants. I may have to dig up the coccineas and zinnias to give them a chance to grow out while they still have a chance. I'm still not sure what the source of the earwigs is... the mulch, the composted manure, my own compost, or just a random outbreak in that part of the yard. Plenty of other plants remain unaffected.
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a


    
This message has been edited by hawkeye_wx on May 20, 2017 8:20 AM


 
 
Dan
(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 8:20 AM 

I'm going to put out some homemade traps this evening (small container, oil, molasses, etc) to try to catch them all.
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a

 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 9:29 AM 

Be careful if you dig up the zinnias, zinnias do not like to have their roots disturbed. On my double zinnia seeds from Johnnys seeds it states that disturbing the roots could cause them to turn to singles.

Ken
Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)

 
 
Tom M
(Login TomnStPete)
Hummingbird Lover 2014

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 10:02 AM 

I hope it goes well Dan, keep us posted.
St Pete Tom
USDA 10a, Heat 10

 
 
Indy Steve
(Login SteveWnindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 12:20 PM 

Dan--Glad that you at least found the culprit doing the damage. Now you can proceed and mayble save some plants.
Steve
Martinsville In.
Zone 6

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I love Hummingbirds
(Login Gaill)
Hummingbird Lover 2016

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 1:28 PM 

I have read that Sluggo will treat earwigs. How well I don't know.
WTS, a bit of vaseline on the lower part of the stems will prevent them from moving up.
After treatment, place some damp layered newspaper down, near the plants, for the night. Check and dispose the next morning. You might catch some slugs, too.
Gail
SE Michigan
USDA Zone 6a

 
 
D_Kleiser
(Login D_Kleiser)
Hummingbird lover 2011

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 1:30 PM 

We found it impossible to grow annual Vinca for two years running because of earwigs. Saw them doing their thing well after dark, as you mentioned. What worked here was Bonide systemic granules. That persists in the plant for 8 weeks, so it shouldn't be used for plants in bloom or close to it.
Far west Chicago 'Burbs, Zone 5a
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Pete
(Login Sundodger)
Hummingbirders 2010

Re: Major insect problem

May 20 2017, 3:00 PM 

Dan, earwigs eat soft green vegetation like leaves, as you've found out. But they also need a source of dead wood to live. They do not attack green wood or even treated/dried 2x4's, there has to be rot in the wood for them.

If you don't have any wood rot around buildings, if you don't have any stumps, dead roots nearby then the source is most likely the wood mulch.

I had to take down a crab apple tree year ago. While it was still blooming nicely, the heart of the tree was filled with ear wigs and our whole yard was full of them coming from that tree. I hated to cut it down but I had to get rid of the source and spraying wasn't going to solve the problem being so deep into the tree.

Good luck.
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Green Bay, WI
Plant Zone 5

 
 
Dan
(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Major insect problem

May 21 2017, 9:16 AM 

I put out several canola oil/soy sauce traps next to the damaged plants last night, but they only caught a couple earwigs. Perhaps the new spray killed most of them the previous night. I don't see any additional damage. I'll check for activity after dark late this evening.
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a

 
 

Kathi and Michael Rock
(Login kathirock)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Re: Major insect problem

May 21 2017, 12:53 PM 

Dan,

I hope this stays in check and you don't have any further damage. We see a lot of earwigs and their resulting damage during wet and rainy periods like we're having now. I'll have to keep an eye out in our garden.
Michael and Kathi Rock
Madison, WI
Zone 5

[linked image]

 
 
Donald
(Login Ornithophilous)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Re: Major insect problem

May 21 2017, 10:30 PM 

I've never had experience with earwigs. Sounds awful, but if I ever see that happen in my garden at least I'll know what is going on--I would have probably spun my wheels for days trying to figure out what was going on if I hadn't read this thread!

Don
Zone 4 Red Wing MN
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Joni
(Login Yodlei44)
Hummingbirder 2008

Re: Major insect problem

May 23 2017, 7:04 PM 

I just uncovered a group of toddlers in my mulch while weeding. I rarely have them bother any plants to the point of having to get rid of them. They especially like to get inside my Niger socks I have hanging from hooks in my trees. I usually find them in the folds on top. I have an acre with a lot of "dead" stuff for them to eat & maybe that is why they leave my "green" stuff alone. I would imagine they would bother plants more in an extremely tidy setting...just a thought.

They are considered both beneficial & a pest. They do eat dead plant material, aphids, slugs, etc. Kinda the scavengers of the insect world.

Joni
Elwood, IL
Zone 5
[linked image]

 
 
 
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