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Something eating my vegetables

Eagle Mountain, TX

I have bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapeņos, and basil. Something eats them, maybe more than one something. Ive seen little caterpillars, and read that you have to look closely for them and squish them. I've seen what I read is moth poop. But I also read that squashing all the caterpillars should solve the problem. Every morning I inspect my leaves, and squash is I find something. But there is much more damage over night, and not always a caterpillar the next morning. Also, the eating patterns are not always the some. Some are tiny holes, and others have a whole side of leaf eaten off. To, this happens on the peppers, not the tomatoes. Help!

Eagle Mountain, TX

Always have trouble uploading image when I first post...

Thumbnail by kg2943
Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I might try some Bacillus thuringiensis spray, also known as Bt. Highly effective on caterpillars and organic friendly. Not expensive and you should be able to find it at your local farm supply store. Be sure to spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves on your plants. Good luck!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

If your "moth poop" look like black bee bees, or black pellets, it might NOT be moth poop. It's Harry.

Look for him on the outtermost branches, near the tips. He'll be on the leaf big enough to hold his body weight. The size of the poop is a determinant of just how big or how small Harry might be.

I saw gynormous size poop on my bell peppers, and knew he was gonna be a big one. I stood for 25 minutes trying to find him, and finally let him win that round. But, I went out later, and, there he was, curled around a squash plant at the very tip top, munching away.

Harry was relocated to the yard over my fence...I don't kill them, because they make an absolutely beautiful, velvety luna moth, that's a wonder to behold!

Here's Harry.


This message was edited Sep 13, 2012 9:29 AM

Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Eagle Mountain, TX

I haven't seen anything like Harry, although he looks like he has a big appetite :) My moth poop is tiny little black spots. I had it all over my petunias, which were in terrible shape, and didn't know what they were. Then I found out, not only were they moth poop, but that moths love petunias. I don't have them anymore, and won't in the future. But these are little black specks, so must be smaller than Harry. Thanks tho, he made me smile!

Eagle Mountain, TX

terri_emory, is there a home made version of Bt? I used a home made pepper spray a while back, and it seemed to work.But the tomatoes burned my mouth (even after washing) and made me cough to spray it. No wonder the little buggers don't like it.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

If the damage happens overnight it may be slugs or earwigs- they are both nocturnal mostly. If it is slugs you could see the shiny trails-

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

No homemade version that I am aware of. Bt is a suspension of a bacteria that must be eaten to be effective. Causes the caterpillars to stop eating, they may still be there for a few days but they stop eating and, well, die. Will not harm you or others. I used to watch a gardening show with (I think) Eliot Coleman as one of the hosts. He actually drank some of the stuff to show that it was harmless to us two-leggers. So it must be OK if it was on TV ;~)--plus I'm pretty sure Eliot Coleman is still alive.....I would not drink it myself, though. I'm a real sissy when it comes to that sort of thing. I'm pretty sure I remember that host drink some bennie nematodes as well......

I do like those luna moths, but not the caterpillars. I've had one and one alone decimate an entire tomato plant in one day. My chickens, however, love those caterpillars! By the tens and twenties and thirties. And that is how many one will have next year if conditions are right and one doesn't try to control them this year. Those luna moths can hang out in the pasture, not in my garden ☺.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Luna moths, hummingbird moths, big hornworms. There is a link in here from Az? Maybe? That tells of using cinnamon as a base for sprays, dunno if I saved it, but it might not be as fiery an aftertaste, chuckl.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

The small holes can be anything from roly poly bugs to leaf miners, cabbage loopers, Eagle Mountain? As in Piedras Negras? Pretty area. Diff colors draw different bugs, usually a yellow, and build a trap

Eagle Mountain, TX

Thank you terri, I will grab some.... Also, yes I've seen snails and shiny slug trails. Do they crawl up, eat the leaves, and crawl back down? I only ever see them in the soil. Do they eat the roots/stems, damaging the whole plant? There are thousands of tiny snails in my yard. Every time I pull weeds in the lawn, I find several snails in just a small section. As there are so many, and my lawn looks fine, I never knew if these were harmful or not.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

Yes, snails can crawl up on leaves and munch- but I don't think they eat roots-

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

They hide in the soil during daylite, the granular form of Sluggo Snail Bait works on them...

Eagle Mountain, TX

Just read about Sluggo, sounds great! Thank you

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Also, yes I've seen snails and shiny slug trails. Do they crawl up, eat the leaves, and crawl back down?

I have slugs, not snails, and occasionally see them several feet up a plant, decapitating it. And they mow down Delphinium seedlings like a lawn mower.

The toxic-chemical Sluggo works great. The iron phosphate Sluggo might reduce their numbers somewhat.

I find that beer saucers do attract them and dorwn them, and gives me an idea how many are lurking. I cut the bottoms off clear soda bottles and sink them a little into the soil so they are less conspicuous and less tipy.

Most leafy things are good trap crops: attracting slugs away from other plants. Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage. Maybe put the beer saucers in amongst the trap crop.

This might be a good time of year to hunt for slug egg masses under rocks and leaves, and spray them with ammonia. Do snails have egg mqasses?

Greenfield, WI

I had a serious problem with caterpillars at one time in my garden in Chicago. I was told to set my alarm for 2 AM, grab a flashlight and go on a search and destroy mission. There was only one or two caterpillars per plant, but my goodness, what awful destruction. I killed the caterpillars and sure enough, the next week on almost no damage. Good luck.

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