Eggplant Leaf, bug problem

Chicago, IL

Woke up this morning to find a hole in a few of my eggplant leaves and some sort of yellow discoloration on the ends of a few leaves. I'm trying to grow some eggplant indoors and am assuming it is some sort of bug that ate the leaf. The plant is still very young, only has a couple sets of leaves. I looked around the pot and couldn't find any bugs. I noticed this same problem on both plants but only pulled the leaf of one. Should I pull the other leaf? Any info on what type of bugs can cause this problem? Any info will be helpful, thanks in advance.

Thumbnail by vj2651
Chicago, IL

Problem has gotten much worse. A few leaves have been completely eaten. I don't see any bugs during the day so I'm assuming they come out at night after the lights are off.

Standish, MI

Would you post a picture of the leaf that is mostly eaten? One that still has part of the leaf showing.

This message was edited Jun 3, 2012 9:32 PM

Chicago, IL

I covered the top of soil with perlite, hoping that would deter the bugs from hiding in the soil but I don't think it worked. I can't see any visible bugs in the pot or nearby. Very frustrating.

Don't have camera on me so pictures are from my phone. Let me know if you want some more pics. Thanks.

Thumbnail by vj2651
Standish, MI

One more question. Does any part of the leaf turn brown before it comes off and have you seen any partof a brown leaf drpped on the soil?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Is your plant growing inside? The reason I ask is I have jillions of plants growing in my laundry room and a few other indoor places and so far i have found a cut worm, snail, some other bug and a giant grass hopper looking thing. Everytime my plants had obvious signs of being eaten, then I found the pest disposed of it and the problem was over. I thought it was unusual because the plants were inside.

Chicago, IL

The leaf does have a slight discoloration but does not drop in the soil. The first, original pictures shows the white/yellowish color.

The plant is being grown indoors but I can't find any bugs in the soil or near it. I'm sure this plant is being eaten by some bug but just cant seem to find anything.

Standish, MI

I needed to check as many of the different vairables that will affect indoor plants as I could from a distance. Your growing conditions are not a lot different that what we have here in Michigan so that helps eliminate some of the problems. Yes I agree it is some type of chewing insect or worm. 1lisac mentioned some of the problems that where her problem that can also affect you. I man sound crazy but even cats will eat leaves and leave them looking like what you have. But they usually leave some type of evidence. The discoloration on the first leaf was another thing I was considering but this, if it becomes a problem will eventually brown the effected area and the dried leaf part will eventually fall. From what I can see yours is a clean cut from a chewing something. If you elliminate things like cats, grasshoppers, etc. then you can move on to other insects or worms. I'm still checking to give you a more deffinative answer but you need something now.

How did the perlite work, I'm not sure it would have any effect. I have not tried the following and only heard about it two days ago but a gardener was relaying to me how he treats his garden for insects. He uses a spray of 1 cup peroxide to 1 gallon of water and then sprays the plants. This is as a contact spray but I wonder if you might not use something similar as a drench and elimiate the variable of the insect being in the soil.

I will keep looking to check what insects are inyour are that might be your problem.

Chicago, IL

Gardenworm - Thanks for the help. Just to clarify the first picture, of the leaf, did not fall off. I pinched the leaf off so I could take a picture. None of the leaves are falling off the plant, they are only being eaten.

The perlite seems to be working, the damage hasn't gotten any worse. I also moved the plant to a different location.

If the problem gets worse in the next few days I will look for some sort of spray, similar to the one mentioned.

Thanks again.

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

Did you happen to notice any black droppings near the leaves? Like little pellets? Would it be possible to put a white/light covering over the soil to see if you're getting any droppings? If I didn't know better, I'd say you have a tomato horn worm munching on your eggplant.

A telltale sign is the presence of black, pellet-looking droppings, and the speed at which your leaves are being eaten.

Look very closely for Harry. He's a master of disguise.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

The plant is being grown indoors and they put perlite on the soil, that is a lite color isn't it?

Standish, MI

I know you are waiting to see what happens but there might be a answer. Silverfish are nocturnal feeders and their damage looks a lot like your picture. They can hide in small areas during the day and come out at night. Look up a picture

Chicago, IL

Gymgirl - Couldn't find any black droppings.

1lisac - I covered the top of soil with perlite to hide the soil from predators. A friend told me to do this and its seems to be working.

Gardenworm - Do silverfish hide in the soil or do they crawl into the plant at night? The plants are only being eaten at night so this might be the problem.

Since I put the perlite and moved the plant it hasn't been attacked. I've also let the soil get really dry but am water today. I'm hoping the watering doesn't bring the problem back.

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

Silverfish???!!! They can eat plants???!!! Wow!!!

Standish, MI

They do not hide in plants but it sounds like you may find them in the soil, under a fallen leaf, under the pot, in your sink drain, under newspapers, in corners, under rugs, in clothes, in the binding of the books, etc, etc. But as far as I know they do not burrow into plants they only eat them.

It seems that they like damp dark places but I have found them in dark dry areas as well. Look up Earwigs and Silverfish you should find a lot of information. They like the glue in book bindings and wall paper. They also will eat silk clothing.

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

I've seen them before. I just didn't know they actually ATE plant material!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, I found whats eating my inside plants this time. I really need to get them potted up and outside, but the last time I potted up a White Hab that was in a 6" round pot and loaded with flowers in a sunny window and put it outside in the shade it lost all its blooms, leaves then died. I should have left it in the house I would have had peppers.

This bug is a different looking grasshopper. Ive seen a few lately BUT this one was on a pepper plant. I stuck it in a jar and put it outside. Wonder what will be next. Still trying to figure out how the snail got in the house, and the cutworm....vj2651 I feel for you.

Standish, MI

I have kept up the search for articles, etc about silverfish. It seems that there is much disagreement with what their diet is. Articles from some sources have them eating mainly those things that contain starch like wall paper glue and the glue from book bindings. I just recently talked to a gentleman from the Dept. of Entomology at Michigan State University and he told me that he has never heard of silverfish eating plant material.

Further checking of the internet leads to sources with pictures of the damage that they do to plants in the house. I remain with mixed feelings about what they do eat.

The information that I have posted is from other sources. I have never got the flashlight out in the middle of the night to catch them in action.So this is where I leave the results of the discussion up to you. I am still searching out sources of information on the subject for I find it interesting to discover what I have felt a harmless insect to be one that possibly does damage.

I wouldn't suggest a campaign of stamp out the silverfish but if you see one when you do into the local library its not there checking out a book to read but it may be munching on its binding.

I will keep investigating to see what else may be out there.

Standish, MI


After looking at length into the matter I think that instead of silverfish [Lepisma Saccharnia] you might have a problem with earwig [ Forficula Auricularia or Euborellia Annulipes]. My reasoning is that I find it harder to support the assumption that it is silverfish [yet it may be]. There is more evidence that it may be earwig. Some people tend to confuse the two but earwig is more prone to plant destruction and your pictures [though they are like the ones for silverfish that are posted] I would think those that posted the pictures may be mistaken and they probably have posted pictures of earwig damage.

Both are nocturnal feeders and both hide in similar areas. A good place to look at insect problems is

I hope you already have curried the problem but I thought I would send you the final bit of info that I have been able to find.

Chicago, IL

gardenworm - Thanks for the info! I thought the problem was solved when I covered the soil with perlite and moved the plant but the little creatures are back.

Standish, MI

Can you get large clear garbage bags? If you can and one will fit over your plant maybe you should try to isolate the problem by putting your plant in the bag and seal the top. I would probably put a couple of real small holes at the top but this is not really necessary.

If you do this for a couple of days and your plant still gets eaten you will know that the critters are in the soil. If they leave it alone you can probably assume that the pest is coming from some other source. The bag will not harm your plant and will actually act like a mini greenhouse.

I wouldn't leave it in the bag to long because you could start having a problem with fungus. So I would only do it for two or three days.

Has the problem affected any other plants?

Chicago, IL

gardenworm - I will put a clear bag over the plant tonight and report back with results. None of my other plants have been affected but I have noticed a lot of small, black flying bugs around my basil plant. They are sitting on top of the soil and seem to multiplying. I'm thinking they are mites and don't seem to be harming the basil yet.

Chicago, IL

One more question. Should I pinch off the leaves that are being eaten/infected?

Standish, MI

unless you see some type of bug on the leaf I would not remove, yet.

Virginia Beach, VA

I had problems with my eggplant leaves few weeks ago and just sprayed with diluted dish soap. The new leaves are okay now.


Laurel, DE(Zone 7a)

I'm new with all of this i ask so many questions. But i want to tell you last week i had the same with all different Eggplants i have i looked under the leafs there was orange larvae and others leafs had some small bugs. I went on line looked up FLEA BEETLES check it out, i don't know if i have this bug or larvae ,but what i read the larvae is in the grown eating your roots. I cut all my leaf off since my plants were small, and in one week all new leafs. I don't want to use insect spray but if you do i was told SPECTRACIDE MALATHION is good it doesn't get thru the skin of veggies. I say no , sometimes i use my spray jar put alittler DAWN dish soap and hook up tho hose and spray do not do in hot sun , than i rines it off in 10 15 mins, i afraid of cloging the leafs pours if i don't rines. Again I 'm new at all of this. If you find out what bug you have let me know, and what you used to help as long as it not poison. GOOD LUCK

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I found what is eating my indoor pepper plants. CRICKETS! I thought they were grasshoppers but no, thay are crickets. I didnt realize crickets ate plants. I actually found them one got tossed outside, the other one jumped away and got sprayed with neem oil. Havent seen it since.

The amount of damage and the different types of damage would lead me to think there was more then one type of bug but its just crickets. They have actually chewed the base of a couple small pepper plants so badly that the stem is almost chewed through. If the plants were outside I would have thought they were cutworms. The damage they did last night alone, before I caught them, is so bad Im not sure those plants will survive. I didnt realize how much damage they could do and how diverse it could be. BIG lesson learned.

Flea Beetles love Eggplant. They leave shot hole type damage on the leaves now I know crickets do too.

What did you find when you put a plastic bag over your plant?

Chicago, IL

1lisac - It seems that whatever bug was attacking it is gone. I've been putting the plastic bag over the plant at night and it seems to be working.

I'm getting the feeling that this eggplant plant has some sort of fungus/disease. I've noticed the leaves turning white, almost like they were burnt. I've attached a new picture of the plant so you can see what I am talking about. This problem was occurring before I started the plastic bag a few days ago. The plant has grown in size but hasn't shown any signs of producing fruit.

Thumbnail by vj2651 Thumbnail by vj2651
Chicago, IL

I know this is a old post but I couldn't help but share the journey of this eggplant.

I was positive this plant was going to die after being attacked by bugs and showing signs of fungus/disease, just look at earlier pictures in this post. I moved the plant outdoors and it did a complete 180. Plant is thriving and producing lots of fruits (10 so far). I've attached a link with a current picture.

This is my first year gardening and I've learned a lot from this plant alone. I was about to toss this plant out of frustration.

Thanks for all the help.

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

EXCELLENT! And, thanks for posting the update pics. And, for sticking with it and not giving up!

See what perseverance will get 'cha?


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