What's eating my herbs? :(

wisteareia(7)September 3, 2012

I first discovered this on my sweet marjoram plant. Now I've noticed it on my lemon balm as well. What in this world would nest in those!

Can't tell what it is. Saw orange dots, and the small black slick winged bug in the photo. And all the icky looking black dots (eggs I guess) in the webs. I couldn't stay too long to investigate as ants are setting in and I had an awful allergic reaction to their bites the past few weeks ago.

Really need to eradicate these without pesticides if possible to keep it organic in my garden. But willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means disposing of the infected plants. Sigh. I am afraid they will take over. Just when I was getting good at harvesting my plants for culinary and medicinal uses. I am really disheartened I didn't see this sooner before it got THIS bad, but I'd tied up the marjoram to keep it under control, and didn't see this all up inside it until this weekend.

Here is a link that might be useful: more images

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wisteareia(7)

Not eating them, destroying them, I should have used as the title. Just nesting in them, or something. Doesn't appear to be eating them at all. But it's effectively killing and destroying the plants.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 2:24AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Don't know what the insect is, but your plant has a very debilitating population of spider mites.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:49AM
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wisteareia(7)

Oh no!!! That certainly explains the red dot and all the mess of webs and pellets. Thanks for the ID, I am finding lots of info in old posts for ways to deal with this.
Off I go to battle.
Thank you

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 11:33AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Not mites.

Damage looks precisely like what occurs to my asters every fall -- masses of very small caterpillars which eat plants and produce webbing just as is in your images.

The small dark pellets *aren't* from mites.
Instead, caterpillar droppings. Lots!

I suggest you give the affected herbs a severe haircut then, to kill the dratted buggers, dance on the trimmings before you toss them into the trash.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:10PM
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wisteareia(7)

Hmm, but I saw what looked like a red mite yesterday that looked just like the spider mites. At this point it's such a mess who knows, though - maybe both of them are in here! I'm just so embarrassed for my poor garden that this has gotten out of control. It's not like I don't tend to it.... though I know these can spiral pretty fast...

I'm at bug war today. Alcohol/water mixture used first. Next is neem oil spray. If there is anything left after that, well, maybe I'll be able to spot and deal with it! The blasted ants have been congregating on the plant as well. I saw some evidence of webby stuff on a few other plants from the 2, and sprayed them well too.
It's a rainy day, so I don't want to waste the neem just yet, so hopefully the alcohol/water spray will be a good start.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:21PM
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wisteareia(7)

AHH! You were right. I just examined and found the caterpillars. Oh dear. Much cutting to be done - right now. Thanks for catching that. They're all rolled up inside the undersides of the leaves.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:31PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

GOOD CALL, jean! Thanks for catching this for wisteareia.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:01PM
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