WHAT IS EATING MY PLANTS?!!

I wrote the caption in all caps, I think you understand the emotion behind it!  I love zucchini in the summer fresh from my garden.  In May, I planted seeds for 2 lovely plants.  The seeds germinated and put out nice green leaves.  Then, one day I noticed they were being eaten by an insect.  I suspected slugs.  The holes were large and the damage was overnight.  I placed wet rolled up newspaper to catch the scoundrels.  Early in the morning, I raced to the garden to drown them in soapy water, but only a few sow bugs (roly-polys, in kid language).  So I had squished all the roly-polys, I could find.

Round 2: I bought 2 new plants and put them in beautiful loose organic soil. In two days, they were mere skeletons. by the third day, only green sticks remained.

Round 3: Two more zucchini plants were purchased at a premium price and one was planted back in the same spot.  The other I held for evidence.  My husband set up our camera with time lapse video and we began our vigil.  We had to add a battery operated lantern on low light for the camera to be able to take any video.  Here you can see the before and after photos.  For the video go to the link: https://vimeo.com/45146035

Green leaves before a night of carnage

 

Zucchini plant leaves after being chewed on

Decimation of the zucchini

Click on the photos for a full screen view

Because we had to use a small light for filming, the big leaf on the left was not chewed on as much as the leaf on the right. This leaf  was not facing the camera and so the unscrupulous ravenous fiends devoured it.  The rolled up newspapers were an attempt to trap the low life scum so I could then drown them in soapy water.  But, they were not lured into my trap!

Now, that I know what is eating my plants, I have done some research and I am hoping to thwart their dastardly deeds by murdering as many as possible.  I have a bag of diatomaceous earth and every afternoon, once the soil is no longer damp, I circle the plants with a ring of the white stuff.  Tonight, I am going to dust the plants with it as well.   Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. “When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it gets caught between their little exoskeleton joints. As they move, the diatomaceous earth acts like razor blades and cuts them up.” Taken from http://www.richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth.jsp 

That is the loveliest thing I have heard all week! The DE is working.  I still get a few holes in the zuke leaves, but they are not skeletonized like before.  Once the new plants get established, they should be able to “outrun” the little demons on their own.  Everyone knows zucchini’s grow fast!

ANSWER to the question “What is eating my plants?” : Earwigs

 
For a full screen view of the horrid insects eating my plants, click on the link below.
earwigs
 

 

holy leaves

Earwig damage to Zucchini plant

Posted By

Vicki

I love gardening and when it comes to vegetables, organic gardening is important to me. I am an Advanced Master Gardener with the University of Idaho, and my favorite garden activity is pruning. When I'm not cutting down plants, you can find me shooting photos on my Canon DSLR or out smashing overheads on the tennis courts.


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  1. Joni

    Hi
    This was excellent sleuthing! Good job on the persistence, planning & filming. I’ve heard good things about DE. Can’t wait to try it next year as I had very bad luck with my lemon cucumbers which were attacked by spider mites and ants. I tried everything to kill the mites including washing leaves individually & diligently, home remedies, organic “safe” bug sprays but they either didn’t work at all or came back in a few days. Eventually I had to use 7 Dust – it killed the mites completely but only temporarily got rid of the ants for a few days!. the plants grew thousands of little yellow flowers but no fruit at all.

    My zucchini plants have matured and I’ve gotten several fruits off of each plant so far and they are still producing both male & female flowers. I’m growing them in containers on my porch. Recently I noticed these holes in the bigger leaves but I cannot find any bugsl. I’ve checked them at all hours of the day/night and have not seen a single bug like this or what the other sites are showing. And whatever it is it isn’t devouring the plant like they did to yours. Mine have had these holes for a couple of weeks now and they’re not taking over plus the leaves remain a dark green. Very strange.

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