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Strawberry problems - ants and something getting a leaf

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:42 am
by OrganicTexasMama
Hi! I have 4 strawberry plants in a big terracotta pot. I've got several immature berries already (only planted starts last week!). When I checked on them today, there was one flower that had misshapen petals, and a few tiny, black ants crawling on that plant.

What can I do to get rid of them? Is something like liquid seaweed spray effective? That's, at least, something I have.

Today, on the same plant, I found one leaf that has a yellow patch or two on it. It almost looks like something removed part of the leaf but not all the layers, if that makes any sense at all. It's like the top/bottom layers are missing... But that was a quick check and assessment. I can try to take pics tomorrow.

Any ideas?


Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:27 am
by nedwina
I wouldn't worry much about either at this point. There's probably no connection between the ants and the misshapen bloom, and if just one leaf is funky, I'd pinch it off and fugettaboutit. That could've been anything.

Ant colonies send out patrols. They may be just scouting your pot & will move on if there's nothing there for them. Spray them with water, shake the pot, harass 'em, and they'll look for a better place. Check for aphids- and if you see any, squish and/or blast with water to wash 'em off. If you notice more ants later, put the pot in/above a tray or saucer with water in it. Ants, for the most part, won't cross water. Just be sure to raise the pot above the water, so it's not sitting in it, getting waterlogged.

Strawberries are vulnerable to fungus & disease- and if you picked up the plants at a Big Box place, they might be packin' one. But if you pinch off the funky leaf, and keep the pot in good conditions with plenty of light, air, water, and food, they should be fine. Just keep a close eye on it in case other leaves start showing problems~

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:46 am
by applestar
The spot on the leaf sounds more like a sunburn... or maybe slug damage, though the deformed blossom could be a disease or due to insect damage (not necessarily ants --they may be hanging around for handouts from the suspect).

If you want to start an organic preventive, I usually start spraying all my fruit trees, shrubs, and plants with 10% Milk Solution when the humid weather and fungal disease season begins. I won't have to until June, but you might already be needing to do that.

Posted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:31 am
by OrganicTexasMama
I've now got some holes in the leaves. I've taken pictures but they're on the other computer. :/ There are also a couple of leaves on one plant that are not as spread out, more curled in, than the others. I'm not sure if that's normal or a problem or the result of something else gone wrong?

What is the milk solution? How often do you apply it? It is starting to get humid here, though we are in serious drought so it's been unseasonably dry for quite a while.

Also, on the strawberry and another plant (or two?) I've noticed brown path-like marks on leaves. Clearly another sort of critter but not one I've been able to find on the plants themselves. Any ideas?


Posted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:32 am
by rainbowgardener
When you say brown path like marks, do you mean squiggly trails like this:

The trails are usually lighter colored than the leaves and they are from leaf miners, that live inside the leaves and munch their way around.

Or could it be the slime trail a slug/snail leaves behind?

those are usually shiny not brown and go in straight lines. If it is the slugs, you will never see them in the day time. Go out at night with a flashlight and look.

Otherwise, I don't know....

Re the milk solution, type that in to the Search the Forum keyword box and you will find tons already written here about it.

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:17 am
by OrganicTexasMama
Yes, yes! It's the squiggly trails inside the leaf. Anything to be done about those? Should I leave the leaves or pinch them off? It doesn't seem too bad, overall - only a handful of leaves total throughout the garden, at this point.

The milk solution sounds like it's exactly as it seems. Good to know! Sounds like it's one of those things that can't hurt, so I'll get started on it soon. (The spray bottle I bought doesn't actually spray, so I need to get a new one, first!)


Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:29 am
by rainbowgardener
Pinch off the leaves with the trails in them and discard them (not in the compost pile).

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:05 am
by Kisal
Leaf miners are the larvae of a little fly. They are only vulnerable during the adult stage. The rest of the time, they are protected inside the leaves of plants. I believe another of our members has had some success using sticky traps to control them.

Here is a link to that discussion:

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:52 pm
by OrganicTexasMama
Many thanks! This is one of my watermelon leaves that I have since pinched off and discarded:


I posted a range of pictures of all the issues I'm seeing here: including the strawberry leaves with holes: