The Q&A Archives: Something is Eating my Violas

Question: I have several pots of Violas in my backyard that are being systematically eaten by something. The flower heads are first eaten then the culprit moves on down to the base of the plant. It does not eat the entire plant but does enough damage that the plants are slowly dying. I have looked for snails and slug residue but have found none. I have had a problem with spider mites but the plants do not have the any noticeable webbing. I also have Nasturtiums that this pest is not touching but I do have several trays of seedlings (Cosmos and Zinnia's) that have been attacked and the tops eaten. Help!

Answer: There are many caterpillar-type pests in the garden and they have a penchant for sweet flowers. I'd suspect caterpillars (or budworms) are doing the damage, especially if they are leaving the bitter tasting Nasturtiums alone. Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies, both considered beneficial pollinators. If you feel you must control them, the botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is registered for control of caterpillars.

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