British Columbia: What's eating these plants?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Roy Sinn, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Roy Sinn

    Roy Sinn Member

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    A couple in Squamish introduced a collection of plants into their garden. It seems to have turned into a bit of a insectarium. Based on the photos and descriptions they sent, I guessed at a couple of bugs but can't identify much based on the photos and descriptions. Can you help?

    Photos attached and unedited narrative from my daughter-in-law here:

    It's happening to
    * the Japanese Maple * all of the Lily of the Valley varieties
    * the Portuguese Laurels
    * he Weigela Variegatas.
    So basically everything with a "leaf shaped" leaf.
    Here is what I have noticed
    1. curling on the laurels (they are off the ground in a box)
    2. holes and chewed edges on the laurels
    3. longer cuts in some of the laurel leaves
    4. tiny black specks underneath the leaves of the Lily of the Valley's and Weigela and a TON of leaves with semi-circular chunks out of them as well as holes the diameter of a pencil I have seen lots of tiny ants on the ground around the lily of the valleys and Weigala and at any given time can spots a few on the leaves.
    I have also seen aphids on some of the leaves of the plants on the ground
    5. Something weird: The upper foliage is much more effected than lower leaves and leaves that are undercover of other foliage

    After some research, I think I might have more than one problem here
    A. I know we have snails - all over
    B. I have lots of "bee friendly" plants and understand there is s variety of bee that likes to eat leaves
    C. We have a TON of ants in the yard. I even saw a flying ant!
    D. I have NOT actually seen any caterpillars though
    So....who are the likely villains making a mockery of my garden, and how do I get rid of them?
     

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  2. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Rising Contributor

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    QUESTIONS

    - are these plants in photos planted in the soil of your garden ?

    or in containers ?

    And moved in from ?? (from where ?)

    If the plants are from a nursery store - then talk to the store ASAP
     
  3. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor

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    You have given an excellent summary of the problems you observe in your garden and the possible culprits. I think insects, not diseases, are the culprits.

    The notched leaves are most likely being caused by slugs and snails. This wetter-than-usual spring encourages them to multiply. You can set out beer traps for them or use a product such as Safer's Slug & Snail Killer but it's unlikely that you'll eliminate them all.

    The holes is the Japanese maple leaves may be caused by winter moth (Operophtera brumata); I cannot say but you can find more information online -DO YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT WINTER MOTH? | Russell Nursery.

    Weevils also notch leaves but the bites on the leaves in your photos look larger than what I usually observe weevils making.

    Leaf cutter bees cut almost perfect circles in their preferred leaves - not like what you're seeing. Ants do not eat leaves. If you have aphids on some plants, they should be pretty easy to identify - but less than easy to deal with.

    In my opinion, the most serious problem you mention is the black specks under the leaves of Lily-of-the-Valley shrubs (Pieris japonica). It could very well be that they are harbouring lace bugs which favour Pieris japonica as well as some rhododendrons. I've never heard of them on Weigela however. Lace bugs are becoming more prevelant these past years and are extremely difficult to eradicate or even control. Shrubs growing in the shade are said to be more resistant but many people dig them out before the insect spreads to other shrubs. Here is one of many sites where you can read more: Andromeda (Pieris japonica)-Azalea and rhododendron lace bug
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Rising Contributor

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    Further question - obvious sign of slug or snail is the shiny clear trail

    Also - read up on dogs and slug bait
    Could snail bait hurt my dog?
     
  5. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor

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    • Slugs and snails sometimes leave a shiny trail but not always. Here in my garden they leave such trails only across the sidewalk.
    • It is the ingredient, metaldehyde, in slug bait that is a danger not only to dogs but to birds, frogs, snakes and any other creatures that might eat the bait directly or by eating the dying slugs. Ugh!
    • That was the chemical in Corry's Slug & Snail Killer which, as far as I know, is now banned in many jurisdictions. However, it looks like you can still order products containing metaldehyde online. Corry's now sells a different formulation with the active ingredient, 5% Sodium Ferric EDTA and 95% 'other' ingredients. M-m-m-m, wonder what they are? Safer's label lists 6% Ferric Sodium Hydroxy EDTA. Products like these are certainly more environmentally-friendly but not always fatal to slugs and snails especially in wet weather.
     
  6. Roy Sinn

    Roy Sinn Member

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    Hello and belated thanks, Georgia & Margot. All or most of the plants were recently planted in the ground and brought in from one source. Georgia - excellent point about contacted the nursery. That would be the likely source of the infestation(s) and they would likely know what to recommend. Margot - thanks for all the recommendations and especially about the slug killer recommendation and warning. There are 2 dogs in the household so I don't think they should take a chance with Corry's. I've had mixed results with beer. Worth a try.
     
  7. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Rising Contributor

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    Please do contact the nursery asap

    And be extra cautious w pets cats dogs and wildlife - and obviously small humans .... for some reason we ate slug bait (and lived) circa 1970 (it looked like cereal?) ... I would not suggest trying today’s or any version!

    ——-

    ÉDIT - i think in retrospect it underlines the IMPORTANCE of NEVER using any container that looks like it used to contain food or beverage including the garden hose (what kid doesn’t drink from or play w the hose)

    And also storing in a locker out of reach of curious young people.

    ——-

    Disclaimer - we also painted the big farm dog w red ochre from a cottage cheese container being used as a bucket - cuz we saw the adult workers painting marks on certain livestock (a common practice on range animals)

    So far off topic posted tho fun to think about old garden and farm stories. And we lived ! (So did the dog tho he had a cold bath from the well hose )
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
  8. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor

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    This corroborates what you are saying with a bit more detail. Could snail bait hurt my dog? Even though we don't have dog anymore, I'm not tempted to use any bait other than stale beer because slug damage here is minimal . . . if this wet weather continues however, that could change. :-)
     
  9. Roy Sinn

    Roy Sinn Member

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    Thanks friends. I think my family in Squamish has a good rapport with the nursery where they got the plants. I'm going to suggest stale beer for bait. (Local, of course. Howe Sound or Backcountry.)
     
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  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor

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    Only the best for your slugs . . . good for you!

    Now some distilleries are producing hand sanitizer, it could be time for breweries to start thinking about producing slug killer or, maybe not.
     

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