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Giving Yourself Bug Eyes


If you’re going to control pests in your garden organically it’s important that you get familiar with how plants should look when growing normally so you can see when something looks wrong. This way you can often spot a problem in it’s early stages when it’s easy to control and before there’s been a lot of damage.

I was doing maintenance at a clients home when I glanced at a hydrangea and immediately knew I needed to take a closer look.

Hydrangea Leaves Stuck Together

Hydrangea Leaves Stuck Together

All over the shrub there were leaves glued together. What you see is actually the underside of a few leaves that have been stuck together. Thought I didn’t know exactly what did this, I know it’s a common technique by larvae of various insects to protect themselves while they grow, which they do by eating the leaves of the plant they’re on.

So I gently pulled apart the leaves to see what was inside

Leaftier Caterpillar

Leaftier Caterpillar

What I found was the caterpillar you see above. A little research later in the day told me it was some type of leaftier (as in something that ties leaves together) caterpiller, though I couldn’t figure out the individual species. There are similar caterpillars called leafrollers. The difference generally is that leaf rollers will roll up individual leaves while leaftiers will join together multiple leaves.

I removed all of the caterpillars I could find. What I did was throw them far away from the hydrangea and onto the driveway where I figured birds might see them and come get a meal. You could also drop them into soapy water or just crush them.

Not only are you solving with a immediate problem by removing a pest as I did, but you can also be preventing a future problem. As I was opening the some of the leaves I notice another potential pest that also found the joined leaves to their liking, snails.

Snail on Hydrangea Leaf

Snail on Hydrangea Leaf

Though I’ve I’ve never heard of snails devastating a plant, a snail is just a slug with a shell, and slugs can be a problem. I assume the snails liked it inside the leaves both because they could eat in peace like the caterpillars but also because it was moist inside the joined leaves. This moistness could also possibly have encouraged the growth of harmful fungi in the future. So you can see that by recognizing that something was out of place, I was able to handle a problem quickly and without chemicals.

So go out there and develop your bug eyes.

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