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Coneflowers: Something is eating my petals

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Forum: ConeflowersReplies: 40, Views: 592
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3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

June 27, 2009
11:50 PM

Post #6747080

Something is eating all of my coneflower petals but I don't want to spray bug poison because then it will kill any bees or butterflies that come to the flowers.
Now I have practically bare cones to look at for the rest of the summer. Can anyone make any suggestions?

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3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

June 27, 2009
11:54 PM

Post #6747090

More :-(

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echinaceamaniac
(Clint) Medina, TN
(Zone 7b)

June 28, 2009
12:08 AM

Post #6747139

I've seen Japanese Beetles do this. They get on them right when the sun goes down. I hate those things!
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

June 28, 2009
7:14 PM

Post #6749996

Some of mine look that way too. I thought it was bunnies because I haven't seen any Japanese beetles yet and I saw a bunny in the middle of my yard. Bad bunny!!!
teacup754
College Station, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 28, 2009
9:57 PM

Post #6750767

We have a bunny in our yard too, but I haven't seen them eating my coneflowers. We named him" dumb bunny" because when we go outside, if it is in the grass area it freezes and thinks we can't see it.I think the only reason it is still alive is because we don't have many predators in our cul-de-sac. No one seems to have outside cats etc.
ngam
Southeast, MA
(Zone 6b)

June 29, 2009
1:20 AM

Post #6751487

I found an inch worm or a relative munching on one of my coconut lime echinacea. He was wrapped around the bud. Also found another tiny baby one after careful inspection. I have been checking to see what has been eating the petals and I found the culprits I hope. They are green and blend in well with the under side of the buds and blooms and nibble the petals all around the cone. Any number of insects could be the cause but I would check for an inch worm and the babies.
3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

June 29, 2009
2:09 AM

Post #6751639

I went out at dusk yesterday looking for Japenese beetles, but didn't see any. I've only seen a couple in my yard over the last 10 years. I haven't seen any bugs on these plants, so whatever is eating them is really sneaky.
Whatever is eating them, I can't poison to get rid of them because I'll kill the good bugs. Should I use that Bayer Systemic poison on them? It's been great for my azaleas.
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

June 29, 2009
5:18 PM

Post #6754212


What's to be done about Japanese beetles? I think I have them munching on our flowers too.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

June 29, 2009
6:44 PM

Post #6754569

Japanese beetles, ugh! I don't think they have any natural enemies. I just saw the second one last evening on the red Jacob Kline monardas. I squished it.
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 29, 2009
7:39 PM

Post #6754840

I can't swear that my 4 o'clocks did in the JB's but I had heard that they would. I can say for sure that my roses have seen very little jb action since planting the 4 o'c's. The caution is that I have to watch closely that they (the 4 o'clocks) don't take over the world, lol! I'll trade some early intervention for the bug killing thing anyday, though.
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

June 29, 2009
8:03 PM

Post #6754925


Interesting about the 4 o'clocks. I will have to try that. Thanks.

tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 29, 2009
8:55 PM

Post #6755146

I have only found a couple of the little buggers around. Today I found a very slow one on a lily-buggycrazy's Lavender Gem...love it!! It's right by the 4 o'cs. It looked rather stunned. Maybe it had a stomach ache, lol!

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

June 30, 2009
3:36 PM

Post #6758657

You have to get rid of the grub in your yard which will help for the following year with the beetles. Milk spore is the only safe thing that will only kill the grub and nothing else. Milk spore is very expensive

My beautiful cone flowers have no petals at all. Just the cone is left.

Janet

tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

June 30, 2009
4:09 PM

Post #6758807


Thanks meadowyck. I did not know about Milk Spores.

Here is the Amazon listing for some if anyone wants to know more about it: http://www.amazon.com/Gabriel-80080-2-Milky-Spore-Grub/dp/B000BWY878/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1246378044&sr=8-1

Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

June 30, 2009
4:12 PM

Post #6758816

I think i may have the inch worm thing in my Cone flowers the petals are eaten but i never see whats eating them.
Janet i only have some that are just cones too

The pic shows where mine have been eaten most are alot worse than this and we had to much rain and they are stunted too.

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3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

June 30, 2009
4:46 PM

Post #6758970

So no one has tried the Bayer Shrub systemic poison on perennials? Maybe watered down a bit?

Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

June 30, 2009
5:11 PM

Post #6759059

I try not to use any poison at all i love the butterfly's and bees to much i'm afraid i could harm them.
We have had JB's in the past but i hand picked those we only had a few hadn't seen any this year.

I do use the fire ant brand "once and done" for the ants it also kills the grubs in the ground.

This pic was taken last summer

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3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

June 30, 2009
9:22 PM

Post #6760143

I would never use a poison that would kill the pollinators. I'd sacrifice the flowers first.
This product is taken in by the plant and then only insects that bite into/eat the plant are killed. I just don't know if it is too strong for perennials. I've use it on shrubs. It doesn't say anything about plants on the bottle. No warnings about plants surrounding your shrubs, but no recommendations for use on plants either.

Maybe I'll give one of the coneflowers a test run with it. It would be worth losing one to know an answer.
Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

July 1, 2009
11:26 PM

Post #6765282

I will look for the results of your test {:~)

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 6, 2009
3:13 AM

Post #6782913

I spent the better part of the day (in fact every10 minutes squishing beetles) with a GLOVED hand...

So I broke down and had DH while he was out pick up Bayer 3. I've cut back most of my flowers and waiting over night as the bees are always very active way into the night so at 6:00 am I'll do a test spray to see if it works to keep those darn things off my flowers

this is a crew cut that I gave to my cone after the beetles had eaten all of the petals.

Janet

This message was edited Jul 5, 2009 11:13 PM

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Tex68
Long Branch, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 6, 2009
4:15 AM

Post #6783085

Meadow - would it be better off to dead head to promote more blooms?
3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

July 6, 2009
4:39 AM

Post #6783147

I haven't had good luck with my coneflowers at all this year. I was so excited. They got their own bed last fall and I staggered the sizes and everything. The fluffy purples were a no show. The Big Sky series sent up a couple pitiful 8-inch flower twigs that quickly withered and died. One of the orangish ones did well, but the bugs ate the petals. And the couple of regular purple coneflowers that came up with 2-3 flowers had their petals eaten too. Oh, and I tried the bag of root stock you can buy from Wal-Mart, just to see, they all rotted before they got started. They never were what I considered viable roots really.

I think I need to find a better spot. Maybe I moved them from too much blistering afternoon sun to an area that doesn't get enough afternoon sun. (All morning to about 3ish).

Coneflowers are always struggling with me. And now the dang bugs are eating the few blooms I have. Drat. I just don't have the knack yet. I'm going to keep trying since these are supposed to be "easy, drought resistant flowers". (And this is the first year in about 10 years Georgia hasn't been in a drought - what is my problem - it's got to be the light this time! Oh, and the mystery bugs.)

When I master it, I getting some Pink Double Delight and Coconut Lime, maybe the "Saul's". No since in getting them until I know how to keep them alive. And maybe by then, the Big sky series will be a bit more hardy.

Harmonyplace, do you think that all the GA spring rain is what caused some of my Sunrise or Sunset (don't know which one) plus some purples to be so scraggly and then die?

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Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

July 6, 2009
4:59 AM

Post #6783183

Most definitely it was all the Rain i'm going to post a pic of my garden last year and just look at my cones.
This year they were late comeing up and i got crown rot on some and they grew maybe to a foot tall.
I had a few the standard pinks i got from walmart that have done very well but my orange ones have just been barely hanging on.
I have the mystery bug also never see it but my petals are eaten...???

I have a picnic table full of Big Sky cones and a new one Tennessee mountain cone ready to be placed where i lost alot of salvia,sage,speedwells from all the rain and rot.
But we are haveing no rain and i'm afraid to plant them and they are showing signs of being pot bound so i'm planning on planting this week.
Going to try and move a couple of the established ones to better ground hope they survive the move.

This was taken last summer i wouldn't even take a pic of them now my garden is in such bad shape due to the weather i'm ashamed of it.

This message was edited Jul 6, 2009 1:00 AM

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meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 6, 2009
11:24 AM

Post #6783644

3 gardeners & Harmonyplace:

The bug that is destroying what does manage to come up for you is most likely the japaness beetle. But since you aren't seeing them on the flowers that might mean you don't have a bad infestation of them, where as my garden is covered with them. Not only are they eating my cones they have attacked my shasta daisies, spiderwort, and my beloved clematis.

They can eat through plants in a matter of hours as I watched them totally destroy one clematis yesterday.

I did finally break down and spray, which I'm not a chemical user. But you can't walk outside without these darn critters flying into you and that is where I draw the line. I'm just praying that the bees stay away from those plants. My garden is loaded with honey bees and those big black bees. If I loose my bees then it really wasn't worth using the chemical to get rid of the beetles (provided it does work on them).

Good luck with your cones.

Janet
3gardeners
Mableton, GA
(Zone 7a)

July 6, 2009
8:21 PM

Post #6785719

I am seriously thinking about going out to the few coneflower blooms I have left and painting poison on the petals and not the cones in a desperate attempt to save the petals and the bees at the same time. I have few enough blooms to try this. I can only hope the bees stick to where the pollen is.

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 6, 2009
11:17 PM

Post #6786311

3gardeners the bees will become contaminated even if you only put it on the petels. Parts of their body will brush the petals or their feet and then they are a goner.

I do have some wonderful news to report. That after spraying this morning (not at lunch time) but by this afternoon when I arrived home, there are fewer monsters on my cones and other plants. An there are bees still around. Hopefully the bees will stay off the sprayed plants which at this point it does look like they aren't going near those plants. Hopefully I've not killed too many bees as this is really bothering me.

I am however thinking about cutting all cone blooms just to make sure they aren't completely killed.

I'm also going to cut down my spiderwort and shasta dasies.

Janet
Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

July 13, 2009
3:40 PM

Post #6814057

I FOUND IT! The thing that is eating my petals is the "Inch Worm" I was watering my Big Skys i haven't planted yet and there on the Tennessee pink cones was a inch worm it had turned pink from chewing on the petals.
I didn't think about it when i smushed it i wish i had got a pic i will get one if i find another one.

The inch worm was actually kind of pretty green body outside and full of pink petals inside the green and pink went very well together LOL
echinaceamaniac
(Clint) Medina, TN
(Zone 7b)

July 13, 2009
3:44 PM

Post #6814077

I've seen those suckers this year too! They were hiding in the cones just like your monsters.
ngam
Southeast, MA
(Zone 6b)

July 13, 2009
3:50 PM

Post #6814102

Earlier in this thread I reported the same thing. They are very tiny to start and difficult to find especially when you don't know what you are looking for. They wrap around the cone and bud underneath so you really have to feel for them until they get large enough to snag easily. Congrats on finding the perpetrator. Knowing what to look for is half the battle. :)
Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

July 13, 2009
3:52 PM

Post #6814107

They are so tiny they just about hide anywhere thats why i couldn't figure out what was eating mine.

It's good to know but what do i do now i don't like to use poisons in my garden would DE work?
I know DE works on soft bodied insects would it hurt the Bees and Butterfly's?
ngam
Southeast, MA
(Zone 6b)

July 13, 2009
3:58 PM

Post #6814133

I spray with plain old soapy water early on the am before the sun hits the flowers and the bees and butterflies come out for breakfast.. On top and underneath, only did it once and hand picked any I found at the same time. So far no return visits.
Harmonyplace

(Zone 7b)

July 13, 2009
5:26 PM

Post #6814544

I'm going to look underneath and see what i can find thanks for telling me where the little buggers are hiding {:~)
Cheryl_103
Pittsburgh, PA
(Zone 6a)

July 23, 2009
1:56 AM

Post #6853202

I'm late to this thread but having the same problems: something teensy eating the petals, sometimes before the bud is even ready to bloom. I DID see a very tiny little thing bobbing in & out of the cone, but of course when I ran in to get the camera & got back out it had disappeared. I'm wondering if just a good garden hose spraying will knock them off & make them mad enough to leave?! I've heard it works on spider mites?

As for Japanese beetles: why can't they love to eat weeds instead of our flowers? :-( I go into my garden with a small bucket of soapy water, & just knock the buggers into it when I see them. Haven't any of you tried the Bag-A-Bug Japanese Beetle traps? We bought one last year when we first saw the bugs, but our neighbor beat us to it, and her Bag-A-Bug lured them away from our yard!
This year we saw them all emerging from the lawn & put up the Bag right away. You want to put it as far away from your garden as possible, since it will lure JB's from all around. That & the soapy water bucket helps alot.

I'm another who hates to use any bug spray on my echinaceas (& liatris & monarda, etc.) because of all the bees & butterflies & hummingbirds enjoying them. DE (diatomaceous earth) sprinkled all around the bottom of the plant is harmless to the bees & butterflies, but will stop or at least deter crawly creeps like slugs & earwigs, which will also eat the flower buds during the night.

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Cheryl_103
Pittsburgh, PA
(Zone 6a)

July 23, 2009
2:00 AM

Post #6853214

Another photo. (The one above is actually one with hardly any damage!)
Any clues what the white fuzzy-looking stuff is? Probably a nest for teeny little inch worms...groan.

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Tex68
Long Branch, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 23, 2009
7:01 AM

Post #6854125

For two months or so something were eating a particular Black-Eyed Susan I have. Leaves and upper stems gone in one night and only the main bottom stem left. The plant will shoot-up new stems and leaves and again the same thing happens JUST to that particular Black-Eyed Susan, despite the fact that there are other plants right beside the BES and there are other BES in the area. This keeps going on and on and happens overnight. I know it wasn't bugs because I don't think there's a bug or bugs that can munch on the whole plant overnight. I didn't really mind it because it seems to happen just to the particular BES

Last week, late at night I noticed something crawling in the yard in the shape of a mole or a hedge-hog. I wasn't sure exactly what it was as it disappeared through the darkness and under the bushes. Still I didn't really paid much attention to it since there's really no damage to my garden or flowers. Not until yesterday morning I noticed the same BES was eaten again and so does a few of my Echinacea flowers and a partly eaten another BES plant. I know it was that animal and whatever it was, it got really a huge appetite this time.

I'm off to get a trap maybe tomorrow and hoping to capture this creature.

funnthsun

funnthsun
(Carisa) Raleigh, NC
(Zone 7b)

July 23, 2009
11:47 AM

Post #6854356

Cheryl,

I have the same white stuff on my echs every once in a while. I am pretty sure that it is from those little inch worms. All of the little eaters are under control this year but it has surely been a constant battle, watching, stalking, etc. The inch worms are the hardest b/c they are just so small and hard to find. I think they like hide and go seek!

As for the japanese beetles, I think most of us don't use the bags b/c it draws beetles from yards and yards away and typically gives you more problems that it solves. You can still only catch so many and the rest are having lunch on your echs and now they have invited their friends over, too! Helps out neighbors quite well, but I don't think they really aid in our own control of japanese beetles.

I find that soap and water has worked wonderfully for me this year and not a lot of plants have been a part of the local insect buffet!
echinaceamaniac
(Clint) Medina, TN
(Zone 7b)

July 23, 2009
1:35 PM

Post #6854651

Don't you just hate it when they ruin the perfect blooms! Arrrgh!
playsintheyard
Medway, OH

February 10, 2010
9:00 PM

Post #7548676

Hi-I'm new to the neighborhood but I have read this entire thread looking for some mention of my problem. Didn't see one so here goes: My echs are losing their heads to something. Don't know what is doing it but entire beds wind up with the blooms snapped almost entirely off, just dangling by a thin fiber of stem. This is anywhere from 1 or 2 to 4 inches below the bloom. Starts off with one or two stems and proceeds over the days until there is no bloom untouched. I have searched early and late, above and below the flowers and can't find anything on the plants. Took a sample to a couple of garden centers and they were puzzled too. Anyone???

amorecuore
Ft Lauderdale, FL
(Zone 10a)

February 11, 2010
4:58 AM

Post #7549915

Makes me wonder if its deer doing it. At my parents, in NY State, the deer will start top pull off various flower blooms and then decide they don't like them and leave them there.
Cheryl_103
Pittsburgh, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 21, 2010
2:32 AM

Post #7575677

Blooms being snapped off reminds me of the robins that like to snap off the tops of our young bell pepper plants soon after we plant them. So your problem could be bug-eating birds?? They might be grabbing a bug on the stem, but it's certainly aggravating when they ruin the whole plant in the process.
We're up to our knees in snow right now (who isn't this month?? ugghh!) but this year I plan to spray my coneflowers with a mild onion/garlic/soap solution before they start to flower, in hopes of scaring off the inchworms before they get comfy.
Why can't they destroy the weeds in our lawn instead?!
amorecuore
Ft Lauderdale, FL
(Zone 10a)

February 21, 2010
3:38 AM

Post #7575807

I have no idea why I thought it was deer. When I looked at the photos a bell went off in my head. I have the same problem, every summer, with inchworms eating the petals on the Sunflowers. They try to hide in between the petals and the center cone. I must admit that I spray to get rid of them. For some reason they're only around for about 2 months each summer and then they disappear.

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