July 2, 2010

Who Ate My Plants?

Slugs? Earwigs? Chipmunks?  It could be anything.  What exactly is eating my plants?

My purple coneflowers are strangely mutilated, and they were last year too.  The foliage and the stems are fine, but the petals have been torn off.  The blooms are well above the height a rabbit could reach, and there's no evidence of the wholesale tearing and chomping a deer inflicts.  A spurned lover reciting he loves me / he loves me not as each petal is torn off?
These are 'Pink Double Delight', and I have decided I'm not crazy about doubles in the coneflower world.  The fluffy raised center looks silly even with its ring of petals... with the petals eaten off, they look even nuttier.  Sadly, I think she loves me not.

My three Japanese forest grasses, Hakonechloa 'Beni Kaze', thoughtfully selected for wine and green variegation that would complement the Japanese maple above, and for their fountainy shapes at the front walk, have been eaten to the ground.  Not much of a welcome for my front door visitors.  This was supposed to look so flowing and textured, one of those garden inspirations that would make people say "oh, such gardening taste, such refined aesthetics."  Now it looks like Ruby Tuesday's salad bar after the dinner rush.

And a second Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa 'Aurea', is planted in a little line -- three of them in a row -- along the walk at the side of the house.  Oddly, only one is being eaten, as the arrow highlights.  The others are spilling out as intended over the walk.  The third one is a shredded nub.

Sluglike holes have appeared in my strawberries Fragaria Mara des Bois, and the plants completely stopped producing any fruits at all, or any runners.  But there was no other slug evidence, and saucers of beer set next to the strawberry jars produced no bounty of slimy corpses... nothing.  Who is damaging the strawberry leaves and stunting the little red jewels?

What's eating my plants?  There are so many weeds, so many vigorous growers and robust sources of plant nutrition invading and taking over my gardens that could be on any critter's menu.  Why are they eating my fine grasses and ornamentals?  And who are they?


  1. The mystery of the picky eaters! You have bugs with gourmet tastes. :-)

    Love the side border btw!

  2. Looks like you need a trap to figure out what's eating your Hakone grass. I've not run into such munching in my gardens ... no help from me.

  3. 'Bounty of slimy corpses'....ew lol.

    I'm sorry, I'm not even good with what's munching my own plants.

  4. Oh Dear Laurrie ... I know its very bad that your plants have been so badly munched, but your post did make me laugh (sorry). I hope that you find the culprit soon. I think earwigs eat the petals of my coneflowers if that helps.


  5. Happy fourth of July to my US visitors, and thanks, everyone, for weighing in on my problems. I know everyone has similar battles in their gardens!

  6. I'm surprised I don't have you in my reader. I like to visit the blogs of fellow CT gardeners. My coneflowers look pretty ragged, too. I'm not sure which pest is to blame, but I have way too many grasshoppers, earwigs, and Japanese beetles. In the last week, I've also found the shell of a cicada that molted and two much larger beetles, perhaps an inch and a half long, but I don't think either of those are what ate the coneflowers. Since you're not too far from here, maybe you have the same pests.

  7. Welcome, Evolution. I also enjoy reading CT blogs, and I have you on my list. I think I'm narrowing my problem down to earwigs, so that may be your problem with the coneflowers too. Not so many Japanese beetles this year for me.


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