Something is eating my Butterfly Bush

celtylassJuly 8, 2010

My butterfly bushes look terrible. Something is eating away at the leaves. Anybody else have this problem and know what the culprit is?

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Dan Staley

Scores of threads on GW about this common issue, most with more information on the munching pattern.

Nonetheless, go out at night with some flashlights, esp an incandescent and LED, and a red gel even better. In addition to seeing all the wonderful nocturnal moths/critters with their variously-colored eyes, you'll likely see earwigs munching away.

Dan

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

My first guess would be earwigs too, Lass. After beating them down for the last couple years, and starting to think I was winning, IÂve had a terrible resurgence of them this year. I sprinkled some of my granular (lawn type) insecticide around the places where I was seeing the worst damage a couple weeks ago, and it seems to be making a dent in them again. I had been hoping that after using the insecticide for a couple of years, I wouldnÂt need it this year, but I guess I was wrong! Earwigs seem to be in the same category as bindweed! So I guess IÂll just have to keep fighting with them!

In my yard I find they most easily multiply in places where thereÂs wood in contact with the soil, like along the privacy fence and where there are railroad ties bordering the perennial bed. Next most favored places are right along the foundation of the house, the foundation (concrete blocks) of the shed, and under the big rocks I have here and there. They seem to like almost anywhere where they can hide in the tiny crevices between soil and something else! Go out after dark, like Dan suggests, and check the plants that are being eaten with a light of some sort, and IÂm bettin youÂll find earwigs out there, happily chowing down!

Good luck,
Skybird

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:41AM
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celtylass

Thanks for the input Dan and Skybird. Just got home from work (about midnight) and went out with my flashlight and didn't see nary an earwig. I have had this same problem for a few years too. I did buy some kind of critter spray but I probably should have done it much sooner as the poor Butterfly Bush is a sad sight. I have it in a barked area...I wonder if they like that? Come to think of it...the other day I turned a stepping stone over that was clear across the yard and there were tons of earwigs under it. They don't seem to bother anything else except all my nasturtiums that are planted planted out front. Oh well, at least I have had lots of good rain these past couple of days!! Happy Dance!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:36AM
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david52 Zone 6

Is it big chomps out of the leaves? Or do they look skeletal, with just the fine web of veins left? The later might well be flea beetles.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:07AM
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celtylass

I would say the latter...a fine web of veins left. Looks like a leaf of lace to me.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:25PM
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conace55(z5 CO)

I would also suspect flea beetles. I have one butterfly bush that gets attacked every year, but still blooms fine. The bush is across the yard and looks fine from afar, so I don't spend the time or energy treating the flea beetles. So far they haven't attacked anything else, so I'll leave them that bush to chomp on.

Connie

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:30PM
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david52 Zone 6

You can go through the hassle of mixing up a spray, or ignore it - flea beetles eventually just go away somewhere.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 1:38PM
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celtylass

Yes, mine always bloom fine too even though the plant looks like it is on the edge of death. You're mighty generous to those flea beetles Connie! âº

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:38PM
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conace55(z5 CO)

Celtylass, it's not so much that I'm generous, but that I pick my battles in my yard. (smile) Now if they attacked my beauty bush (my favorite) I would arm myself to design their demise!

Connie

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:59PM
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celtylass

LOL Connie...I hear ya! What is your Beauty bush? Would that be a Black Beauty Elderberry by any chance?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:02PM
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conace55(z5 CO)

It's a kolkwitzia amabilis beauty bush. Even my teenaged daughter noticed it in bloom this year saying it was so beautiful. Then we got lots of rain and it was over. But I enjoy its form all year and the fact that so far nothing has bothered it and it also needs no pruning.

Connie

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:56PM
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celtylass

I looked up some photos of your Beauty plant and it indeed is a beauty. I would have to have a very harsh work with those flea beetles too if they chomped on something of mine that beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 2:49AM
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catladysgarden(z5 CO)

I suspect earwigs or some sort of cutworm. I had the same problem with the butterfly bushes. I cured it with Bifen-G (Bifenthrin granules). Sprinkle around the base of the plant and the problem will be solved.
Karen

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:37AM
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Dan Staley

I have a PestServ discussion about the skeletonized leaves we are all experiencing, can't seem to locate it now, might have deleted. Nonetheless, our BB has a combination of earwigs, leafhoppers, planthoppers and several small crickets (!) engorging themselves on the leaves. My Monarda are experiencing the same fate, as are several other ornamentals. Never-ending battle for us this year.

Dan

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:21PM
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celtylass

Karen, I looked up the Bifen-G to see if it is safe since I have a dog and it looks like it is only harmful to fish and aquatics. I will have to get me some! Thanks for the tip!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:57PM
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