Petunia has holes all over it

house_beautiful(9)August 2, 2012


I have some petunias bought from HD planted in pots. Recently I saw there are lot of holes on the flowers and leaves. I could see a tiny little thing feeding on my flowers (see attached photo) Is this a slug? What can I do to save my petunias?


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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Those are caterpillars.

Could be this one.

Or an attractive butterfly. (Under "attracts.")

Compare to your critters, which will change as they age.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Thanks for the response! What would be the best way to handle this?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If it were me, I would look at pictures to try to decide which they are, then decide if the critters that will become of the caterpillars are worth sacrificing my flowers for. If they're going to get a lot bigger, they could eat the whole plant and run out of food. (In which case I might pick some off but leave a couple.) If they're almost full-size, the damage is about over. If they're just some kind of moth, I'd pick them off and throw them into the lawn for the birds to eat. Up to you though, it's your plant.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 9:36PM
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I know this is late but I'm adding this for future readers. Those are moth caterpillars. They can devour a large amount of petunias and FAST. They are a huge problem for petunias in some areas. They also can get into other plants. They devoured my knockout roses too.
You will need to treat the petunias with BT. It is relatively cheap and will only kill caterpillars. They eat the leaves that are covered with the BT and then they become paralyzed. You will need to treat several times. I do it once a month now as preventative-more often while trying to get rid of them. If I don't they come back. The smaller the caterpillar the easier it is to kill. The larger older ones are harder to kill. They run in cycles, they eat and then drop into the mulch and turn into moths. The moths come back and lay their eggs in the plants. This happens several cycles a season. Sorry I dont know the technical words. What I do know is that a few of them QUICKLY will become MANY. Also, they will be back every year until you get them under control. Good luck. These things have been a major pain in my butt.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:04PM
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