What's attacking my plant??

Seattle, WA

I have a small salmonberry plant, and something keeps eating the leaves (I'm assuming they're being eaten, of course). I have a blueberry plant and a thimbleberry plant right next to this guy, but they're fine.

Any ideas what is going on, and/or what I can do to fix it?

Thumbnail by UncleDudu
Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

It would be really helpful to determine what is eating it. You might consider taking a leaf to your local nursery, sometimes they can be really helpful as to what bugs you have in your area and what to do about them. I suggest that after you determine what it is you go online and look for an "organic" solution over pesticides.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

The pattern of damage would suggest something that flies over something like a slug or caterpillar, if that helps you get started.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Do you have Japanese Beetles there?

Seattle, WA

Hmmm, not really sure about the Japanese Beetles, but I'll ask at the local nursery (I live in Seattle). It just seems weird to me that they're only attacking the salmonberry when there are other tasty plants just a few feet away. The mystery continues!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

According to this link, Salmonberry plants are very tasty to caterpillars. I do know it is related to the thimbleberry.

http://www.easybloom.com/plantlibrary/plant/salmonberry

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

I may be wrong about caterpillars. This page at Washington State Dept of Fish & Wildlife lists salmonberry as a host & nectar plant, but doesn't say which kind of butterfly lays their eggs on it.
http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/butterflies/index.html

I found several other instances where salmonberry was included in general list of butterfly host plants, but none specified which type of butterfly (or possibly moth) caterpillars would likely find this plant a tasty meal.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

themoonhowl, that's one of the pages that came up in my search! LOL!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

you can either live with the cats and hope a good butterfly comes of it or you can spray the specific plant with Bt, an organic that targets caterpillars only. they will ingest and then die....sold under different names such as Thuricide.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

That was one of many I looked at...and no, never did see who likes to eat it...just that caterpillars like it. Seems caterpillars like almost everything in the garden...grin just never sure who eats what. It seems that salmonberry is a general food source.


Uncle DuDu I did find this info that you may find useful in matching Butterflies and Moths to food sources in your area.

http://www.wnps.org/npsp/king/documents/T5ButterfliesandHowtoAttractThem_WDFW.pdf

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Caterpillers . . . I just can't bring myself to kill caterpillers. I bought this really cool bush from Annie's Annuals and about a month after I planted it I go out to water and I see that it is just about defoliated. Upon closer inspection I see three huge swallowtail caterpillers munching away. My only thought was I hope there is enough plant left to do the job of getting them to the next stage of life. Well, the bush is still alive and recovering nicely. The bugs left before finishing the last leaf. I found out later it is in the asclepias family. Thanks for posting the butterfly links . . . good info on some plants I didn't know butterflies liked.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

You are very welcome...glad you found them useful.

Seattle, WA

Just an update, to all you who offered advice... I went to the local nursery and they couldn't match the patterns to any known local bugs. One guy who worked there said he was having similar issues with his plants, and suggested moving it out of direct sun, since salmonberry plants are naturally undergrowth plants. I tried that, but it hasn't really helped at all -- they're still turning yellow.

Onward to facing off the caterpillars. I haven't seen any, but I will try that organic Bt and see if it helps...

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

the Bt only works on caterpillars and their kin, but not sawfly larvae or worm type insects. since you never found any and cats normally feed day and night, it might be some kind of beetle or something else entirely.....

Seattle, WA

I talked to a local horticulturist at the Farmer's Market (only in Seattle!), and she seems to think it might be a fungus. So I'm trying to pluck out all the diseased leaves, let the soil dry out, and give it a good layer of compost. We'll see....

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Fungus is a pain the . . .
My iris sometimes get a fungal disease in late Spring. I attribute it to lots of leaves and new growth holding in air moisture.
Being in Washington, you know all about air moisture and may need to be more pro-active than me. I usually can get by with just cleaning up the beds of extra leaf matter and removing most of the leaves with fungus on them. I also avoid watering late in the day when the leaves won't dry up promptly. There are products on the market for fungal diseases, seems to me you can dust them with sulphur or something like that.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Cinnamon can also be used as a fungicide.

http://www.firstrays.com/remedies.htm


FUNGICIDE:

Those of you who frequent the rec.gardens.orchids newsgroup know of my "crusade" for the use of cinnamon as a fungicide. I've done a lot of digging, and it turns out that the chemicals in the bark have all sorts of medicinal applications (I've even cured athlete's foot with my alcohol extract!)

Choose the consistency that is best for your situation:

Powder:
bullet

Apply normal, household cinnamon powder directly to the affected part of the plant by dusting heavily. This has proven to be a good way to control slime mold and mushrooms in the mulch in my outdoor flower beds, too!

Poultice:
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Mix cinnamon powder with sufficient casein-based glue (Elmer's) to make a thick, brown paste. Apply to the wound and let dry. The Elmer's Glue is water soluble, but resists washing-off quite well. This is the preference for mounted plants that get watered or misted frequently.

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An alternative to the Elmer's Glue, but just as waterproof and long-lasting is made by mixing cinnamon powder and cooking oil to form a thick paste. (Thanks to John Kawamoto!)

Spray:

You can prepare a cinnamon spray using either alcohol or water as your solvent. The alcohol infusion is faster to prepare, and offers some insecticidal properties as well. This is my preferred method, and has been effective at eliminating all sorts of fungus problems, including damping-off of deflasked seedlings.
bullet

Put 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of cinnamon powder in a pint (500 ml) of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Shake well and let stand overnight. Filter the solution to remove the sediment (coffee filters work well), and use the brown liquid as a spray. (While it's not a big problem for most orchid growers, I've heard that this is good for powdery mildew, as well.)

or
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Put the cinnamon powder in hot water. Shake well and let stand for several days. Filter and use as above. (Some feel that the alcohol can be too desiccating when used on seedlings.)

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

wow jean, i'm always up for trying a new organic solution to anything! i will put this on "my list". thank you.

oh, btw, what does bullet mean?

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I think that has to do with the formatting on the website (bullet points) like when you do a Power Point presentation...the areas of emphasis are called bullets...I noticed it only shows up in the part i copied...

You are too welcome....I use cinnamon on my orchids and it seems to work rather well.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

:-)

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