The Q&A Archives: Chewed Primroses

Question: I have planted primroses and something is eating the flowers. It looks like they have been hit with small hail or heavy rain. I see nothing but a few ants around, not many, and the plant itself is very healthy. I am stumped. Another problem is a small section of marigolds I have recently planted. I thought nothing bothered marigolds, yet I come out each morning and it looks like someone stepped on them ... all the buds are broke off and the plant itself is almost wilting away. I see no bugs whatsoever. I did notice the other day something that looked like "lint" on the plants. I see no snails or slugs or worms that would leave such a residue. Please help!! Pat weaver Weaverville, NC

Answer: Perhaps there is something walking through your flowerbeds at night - neigborhood pets, racoons, etc.? Check for critter tracks in the soil. It sounds like the damage is being done at night, so perhaps a beetle or grub emerges after dark to munch your primrose. The "lint" you mentioned sounds like it could be cottony cushion scale or wooly aphids. Pull some off and examine them under a magnifying glass to see if there are any visible bug limbs. If they are the problem, use Neem-Away (available from Gardens Alive, 5100 Schenley Pl., Lawrenceburg, IN 47025; ph# 812-537-8650) to get rid of them. A good all-purpose and safe pest control is diatomaceous earth. It deters pests because it is sharp and cuts their bodies, causing them irritation and dehydration. It's also available from Gardens Alive, and may well be available at your local garden center. Sprinkle it on your plants and it may protect them from future harrasment. Hope this helps!

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