Sunday, June 8, 2014

Holes In Hosta Leaves-It Might Not Be Who You Think!

So, you walk by your prized Hosta one afternoon on a stroll and it looks like this:
Hosta "Guacalmole" with damage
Hosta "Lakeside Shore Master" with damage
Hosta "Journeys End" with damage
Your first thought is probably to go and grab the beer, eggshells or the copper banding.  To be honest, these things might not work.  The damage in the pictures above is not from the infamous slug but from another enemy of the gardener-the cutworm.

So, you ask, how do you tell the difference.  Well, it seems that cutworms make larger "neater" holes.  Here are some examples
Hosta "Lakeside Shore Master" with cutworm damage

Hosta "Lakeside Shore Master" with cutworm damage
Hosta "Guacamole" with cutworm damage
Slugs, on the other hand, are "messier" if that makes any sense.  Since I apparently don't have any slug damage at this time I found this photo online of an example:
If you still don't know which you have you can go out at night with a flashlight and look for the culprit(s).  Both slugs and cutworms like to feed at night.  You can also look for cutworms during the day.  Here is how I do it:

Find a Hosta that is being attacked.
Hosta "Journey's End"
Gently pull back the mulch from around the Hosta
Look carefully around the Hosta, I found this cutworm at the base of the stems on this Hosta
Cutworm found by Hosta
cutworm found by Hosta
Now all you need to do is squish it.  No chemicals needed:-))  Seriously, finding them and squishing them has been the best and easiest way I have found to control them.  If you catch them early enough you won't have significant damage to your Hosta.

Here is a cutworm I found near my Hosta "Guacamole"
Can you spot the cutworm?

A closer shot of the cutworm


 Did you notice how far away from the Hosta this one was?  You have to make sure to check the whole area surrounding the Hosta-they can be anywhere around it.  I usually will only find one cutworm in an area, but I usually check the entire area just in case.

So, the next time you have holes in your Hosta don't blame the slug,  you could have a different enemy:-)) 

So, until next time-Happy Planting!


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