UGH something eating hostas

Johnsp(6b)April 1, 2012

In all the years I've grown hostas I've never had anything eat them. Yesterday morning I found a growing bud chewed off of Empress Wu. This morning I found four others chewed. Whatever it is it chews off the stem but doesn't eat it. So I got Bonide's Animal repellent and D-con mixed with peanut butter. I have a large squirrel population that may be the culperate as they are constantly digging in the beds. Can't be a larger animal like a deer or groundhog as the entire backyard is fenced in and electrified. Any herbivore taller than 8 inches would be electrocuted. Possibly rabbits but have not seen any and odd that leaves are only chewed not eaten.

Scott

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It's probably not a good idea to poison the squirrels. You're going to end up poisoning things that eat squirrels like Red Tail Hawks or other helpful predators. It's not likely the squirrels that are causing your problem. Squirrels can dig up Hosta with their incessant digging and expose their roots, but they don't eat them.

It's likely you are dealing with rabbits. Now that they have found the buffet, they'll be back. Many of us use rabbit and or deer repellant. Liquid Fence is popular in either spray or granules. I've been using a local product (made in Connecticut) called Bobex and I like it a little better. Choose your weapon, but choose carefully.

Steve

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Johnsp(6b)

I think your right so hopefully the Bonide will work. Have used their products commercially and were very effective.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Have you thought about turtles? I saw one moseying around the back yard this morning. It may have tippled a bit of the slug beer and gotten potted. But if it is getting warmer where you are, Scott, it could be them. I don't mind the turtles and other such creatures. My neighbor has a vegetable garden, and the turtles snip off the blossoms and leaves of the low growing veggies, later indulge in some of her tomatos. She is a more perfect gardener than I am, of course.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Johnsp(6b)

Hmmm since I haven't seen the critter anything is possible but I have fencing around each bed as well to keep the dogs out so unlikey one could get in and temps have been too cold with highs in the 40s and 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s with snow forecast tonight. More likely it is rabbits but odd they don't eat the plant just chew the stems off leaving it on the ground. I'm going to get up a bit earlier before the sun comes up so I can see whatever it is hopefully. Very frustrating since many were just planted last year and have dbld and tripled in size.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 3:19PM
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bernd ny zone5

Chewing off stalks at the bottom, is that not what cutworms do? Scratch the soil and see if you can find these gray worms.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 4:36PM
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Johnsp(6b)

Bernd their not chewed off at the very bottom. Then what is left is dragged a few inches from the plant. But I will check for them in the morning just to be sure as it is pouring right now. Thanks for the suggestion.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Carolyn219

I live down south, and my hostas are always eaten about 4-8 weeks after they come up. It's rabbits. They eat the leaves off and leave the stems. Some leaves are left around on the ground. An adult rabbit will eat my entire 18" hosta in one night. I never had this problem up north, so I didn't know to avoid planting hostas down here. Rabbits also eat my lantana, a plant that is said to be completely unappetizing to rabbits & deer. The only flowers that are somewhat safe are geraniums, and even they lose their flower buds to the chewers. I spray with Deer Fence once a week and immediately following a heavy rain. Deer Fence seems to help with deer, but it's pretty useless against rabbits--they ignore it & eat the sprayed plant anyway. We have tried trapping the bunnies, but why should they enter a trap when they have an entire yard of delicious plants to dine on? The wildlife here is just very destructive--I've given up on planting anything in the ground. My only flowers are in pots on my raised terrace and in hanging baskets. Nobody here has a vegetable garden; would be impossible. We also have a problem with birds attacking our windows! I'm thinking it's time to move back to the "burbs" up north; no problem growing annuals/perennials there.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:34PM
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anniegolden(z7a)

Scott, in your zone, I vote for squirrels. We have a remarkable population of squirrels here and they are very clever voracious little guys. They decapitate all the tulips. I'VE SEEN THEM. They don't ever eat the flower, so i don't know if they're drinking something yummy from the stem, or what. And then the hyper little guys strew the remains about. In my experience squirrel damage is more random, since they are constantly scampering around. On the other hand, bunny damage is sometimes localized and extensive, since they seem to just find something good to munch and then munch it nonstop until they realize their stomachs are full.
Christine

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It's bunnies. I've seen that kind of damage to mine also. Once I put on the repellent they go away. Hopefully to the neighbor's yard. Squirrels are a nuisance with their digging and they will eat bulbs, but they don't eat Hosta.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:41PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Actually, I have seen a squirrel eat a bit of a hosta leaf. One time, one squirrel and he didn't stay long. This hosta is in terrible shape. The photo was taken last summer when we had the 50 something days above 100. But this is what a squirrel bitten hosta looks like. Note the bottom leaf and the ragged edge.

bkay

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

BKay, if that was done by squirrels during your 100 days of 100, I'm betting they were after the luscious water in the leaves. I watch the birds and the squirrels come to the feeders here, and also to the bird baths. The squirrels during really hot weather will come take a drink too. So yeah, I bet they were thirsty.

And where's Scott? Haven't seen him this week.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:47AM
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