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Leaf nibblers

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 2:37 am
by Bex717
Something is eating everything in my vegetable garden and leaving me just the stem on new growth or small plants! :x

I had this problem last season and thought it was bunnies/squirrels. My husband built a fortress around my garden and I know those critters are no longer my problem.

Also… just curious how I should be routinely treating my garden to avoid common pests? I spray bt regularly as caterpillars frequently appear and munch away if not. I am thinking about lady bugs for my aphids as I can get them to disappear briefly but they always return. It seems I have a new insect to battle everytime I'm out there!

Many thanks!!
Becky (second season gardener from hot Arizona)

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:02 pm
by Bex717
After continuing my research I think the lead attackers are cutworms - going to try a little paper collar around what is left of my new growth. Would still love some insight on if I should be "regularly" performing pest control or if spot treating when I have a problem is better. Thanks!!

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:40 am
by imafan26
Cutworms,possible. Throw out some sluggo. Snails and slugs can do that too and your defenses can't keep them out.

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:25 pm
by Bex717
Thanks!! :)

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:09 pm
by Taiji
Do you ever notice any birds flying thru the 1 inch chicken wire? Not saying that's what your problem is, but here the little goldfinches wreak havoc with certain leafy vegetables; they could fit thru your wire. I had to build a special small portable enclosure with half inch aviary wire for beets, chard, kale and a couple other things. :)

Maybe your enclosure is not closed in at the top?

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:52 pm
by imafan26
It would have to be a very small bird. If the size of the wire is a concern you can always put bird netting over it. I don't think that is a problem because birds would have to be very good fliers to get through those holes with wings tucked and not hit the wall. That is why I am not to sure about moths getting through either since a moth would have to land on the wire and walk through the opening. If you watch a butterfly or moth in flight, they don't fly in a straight line and unless they are very small most of them would not fit easily through a 1 inch opening even with their wings folded. The second plant in the picture is not cut off at the base where cutworms usually do their work. Slugs and snails on the other hand, can do that kind of damage. I know they can get through bird netting and fencing to get to my tomatoes. They like moist soil and those kinds of raised beds with lips are where they like to hide. I usually go out early in the morning to look for snails, early enough that the dew is still on the leaves but there is good pre dawn light. I tried going out at night but with a flashlight alone, I know they are out there but it is usually too dark in my yard to spot much.

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:52 pm
by Bex717
Thanks for your input. I haven't ever seen snails or slugs around Phx, but am going to do some nighttime or early morning hunting as I am having the same problem again this season!

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:16 am
by rainbowgardener
Check out this thread with similar issues: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=73351

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:04 am
by Gary350
When I lived in Phoenix area it was rare to see bugs, not many bugs in the desert. Certain time of the year invisible bugs would eat certain garden plants. Plants were fine at sun down but next morning at sun rise something ate some of the plant leaves middle of the night. It has to be a bug that only comes out after dark.

Only bugs I ever saw was stink bugs on squash and millions of micro small bugs gray on the Brussels sprouts. I tried a flashlight after dark, also tried a black light after dark never saw any bugs after. There are Bats & scorpions after dark but I don't think they eat plants.

My best Arizona garden was planted in November no freezing weather until 2 weeks in February. Broccoli, swiss chard, napa cabbage big as water melons, they all grew very well with 10 minutes of irrigation at 9pm every night = 1 pint of water per plant, all winter. Tomatoes barely have time to make fruit i kept the plants covered when it frosted if there was no freeze tomatoes survived until June. Best crop of melons i ever grew was in AZ planted in March. Onions and garlic did excellent growing all winter Oct to May. Bell peppers, beans, squash, all do good planted Nov 1st. Herbs were so easy to grow there was nothing to do except eat them.

There is a good farm supply store on 202 at Glendale exit that sells garden plants at a reasonable price, also do it yourself pet shots $7 better than $50 at Petsmart. Lowe's & Home depot want $5 per plant that is crazy over priced. Ace hardware sells pet shots too.

AZ soil & water are both 8 ph. AZ soil needs Lime I had a problem with BER in tomatoes, melons, peppers, squash, wood ash & cement was the only lime I could find in AZ.

Re: Leaf nibblers

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:34 pm
by MattGr
I think you're dealing with cutworms but can't be 100% convinced until any additional information is provided. Have you treated your plants with any pesticides so far? If yes, what were they?

You can make sure if they are cutworms if you take a closer look at your plants during the night. Their larvae are known for burying deep into the soil during the day and feed on the plants at night, this is why you probably haven't seen them yet.

Beneficial nematodes, released in the soil, are an organic and effective solution against cutworms. You can read more about the organic pest control methods if you are not familiar with them here: ... l-methods/

Before initiating any form of pest control, though, make sure you are 100% sure what exactly the pest you're dealing with is.