What is eating my moon flower vines?

irisqueen217(7b-8a TX)August 6, 2008

So twice now, I've woken up to discover what was my beautifully, full moon flower vine, has gaping holes. I'm at a loss. Something is eating the entire leaf, over night, and a large amount. It's at the mid point to the top of the fence, so it's not a rabbit. (The Rabbits were eating my lilly's, earlier this summer.) I've looked everywhere for bugs and can't find any. Could it be grasshoppers? I've not seen but a few all summer, and I've been out a lot. I'm astonished they're eating so much so fast, whatever it is.. I mean easily 10+ large, mature, leaves a night. Any suggestions? They're not touching the morning glory's growing up the other side.

Also, I know the vines are getting too much sun, and some of the leaves are sunburned. The 100+ temps here are sunburning a lot of my plants. The vines I can't really move though! Just trying to keep it healthy.. it wilts every afternoon until the shade passes over, but it's still surviving! Now if I can just get whatever is eating it to quit!!!

Sorry my son's head got in the way.. lol

Thanks in advance!


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    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 5:02PM
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irisqueen217(7b-8a TX)

Not possible.. suburbs and completely fenced in. If it was, that deer would be jumping the fence at night and jumping back out by morning.. lol (mental picture) Pretty determined deer. :) If it was eating the morning glory's on the outside that would make sense, but those are completely untouched...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 5:15PM
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Chipmunks. They love to climb and are out running around at pre dawn hours as well as during the day. They will climb up anything to get something to chew on and eat that they like and it won't matter how high up off the ground it is either.
The moister leaves are at the higher levels of the vine and they will go right up there and enjoy themselves.

Have had them do it to my vines too, exactly as they are doing it to yours.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 5:38PM
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I see at least 3 separate processes going on...

1) the dry green leaves are shriveled up and this is usually caused by not getting enough water when the sun is intense...dehydrated plants are more susceptible to various types of infections...

2) the shape of the cutouts around the outer edges of the leaves look to be the result of either beetles or some type of caterpillar...

3) the leaves that look green and distorted are typical of a viral infection

the stems with no leaves at the end are where the leaves have dried up and fallen off...

I have known chipmunks to chew through the lower stems to clear their runways,but the upper leaves are in my opinion the result of some other process...

water the plants deeply and more often...best done after the sun sets so that the ground will remain hydrated longer...

check the plants for shiny beetles and / or caterpillars...

not much you can do about any viral infections but hope that the plant can get through it...

hoping things perk up for you...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 10:12PM
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irisqueen217(7b-8a TX)

Thanks Fran and Ron.

I bought some spray that doesn't harm the plants and repels all rodents, and birds without hurting them. I woke up this morning and no new leaves missing..

As for bugs, worms or otherwise, I have looked EVERYWHERE, and more than once.. I've inspected it daily for 3 days or more. Not a single bug. I have these pics posted on another site, and someone suggested cutworms, or beetles, but again, have not seen either.

As for the leaves falling off, that's not it either. If you look at the pics, the stem is shortened sometimes, so something is not just eating the leaves but the stems too. These are healthy leaves that are "going missing". If they were just falling off, I'd likely find them on the ground. The ones you see on the ground in the pic are from the base of the plant. I pulled most of those myself, to remove the dying leaves so the plant doesn't wast energy on them, and to make it look more pleasing to my eye.

As for the water, I will indeed water more often and in the evenings. Still going to keep checking for bugs... Hoping the spray continues to work. Only time will tell!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 12:03PM
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Ron, i've had chipmunks climb up a chain link fence to get the MG vines and they have chewed up entire leaves right off the stems that where 6 feet off the ground.

In between the rain today, I chased off 2 chipmunks that had climbed up the arbor and where feasting on the heavenly blue MG vines on it.

One other possible critter that would surely love to feast on the lower stems and leaves of the MG, even stand up on hind legs to do it would be grounhog/woodchuck.
I've got them too and they also love to feast on the MG vines as well.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 12:00AM
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Chipmunks will definitely eat various vegetation,but as I had mentioned here:

"I have known chipmunks to chew through the lower stems to clear their runways,but the upper leaves are in my opinion the result of some other process..."

I was commenting on the exact shape of the semi-circular areas removed from the outer edges of the leaves in the photos here:

Earwigs (e.g.,)are nocturnal and I have watched them eat leaves at night...they hide during the day...

Maybe someone who is watching chipmunks eat MG leaves can stop them in mid-process and photograph the leaves so that we can all see exactly what a leaf that has been partially eaten by a chipmunk looks like as that would be a very useful comparitive reference...



    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 7:58AM
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irisqueen217(7b-8a TX)

Well I went out and check again, and I found some poo. lol.. I was still searching the leaves for insects, not finding but a few flies, and the little bug in the pic, and I saw on the back of the trellis and sorta stuck to the fence, a few pellets of poo. Sorry it's not clearer, my camera is not that great apparently.
I have a hard time believing this little bug is responsible for all the missing leaves. Besides it was only on this one leaf, and I looked hard.

Here's the poo, anyone guess what it's from? Either way, the spray seems to be working. No new leaves missing at all. :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 12:31PM
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OK, that looks like frass, poo from a caterpillar. I did a quick search on Ipomoea alba as a host plant and came up with this :

Here is a link that might be useful: pink-spotted moth

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:13PM
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I had the same semicircle patterns one year on my wild roses and on my snow peas. I found the culprit - it's body actually looked exactly like a rose leaf - shape, color - everything. The only reason I was able to find it was that it was in the fall and the rose leaves were mostly gone, but this one still looked perfect, til I got close and saw its legs and face. I had a pic, but no longer have it. The following year I did find one on the pea plants since I knew what I was looking for.

I think I posted the bug pic on the pest forum and they did ID as a Katydid. So, don't expect to find them by signt. They are so perfectly camouflaged.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 10:33AM
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