The Q&A Archives: Something Is Eating My Plants!

Question: In one area of my garden, year after year, something eats the leaves on my rose bushes, annuals, etc. I've used a powdered rose spray and a generic spray, sprinkled Dursban all around that one area to no avail. This year I noticed one of the bigger bushes slowly became defoliated and on closer inspection it appears to be covered in tiny white flecks (which I assume are bugs). How the heck do I get rid of these and why are they consistently in one area of the garden year after year? Can you tell I'm a novice gardener? Thanks!

Answer: It is important first to determine what the pest is, or your attempts at control may not do the trick -- as you have experienced. Unfortunately, without actually seeing the damage it is impossible to say whether it was caused by a disease, an insect or an animal! Some animals such as deer, woodchucks, and rabbits will eat a large variety of plants, both the leaves and stems. Japanese beetles can damage a large number of plants, as can slugs and any assortment of caterpillars. The white flecks could possibly be insects, but they could also be the sign of feeding damage caused by a sucking insect or possibly even a fungal infection. You might want to take a few samples to your County Extension office (560-4150) for a more specific identification of the problem. Then based on the identification, the folks at the office can make suggestions for controlling it. Best of luck!

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