Answer: Birds are occasionally credited with eating some clematis buds. However, more likely culprits might be slugs and snails. Night observations should confirm this. Blister beetles are also nighttime marauders which are yellowish gray or black, and secrete a liquid that can cause blisters on bare skin.
Shake the clematis vine and see if the slender 3/4" beetle drops to the ground. Also check the plant for the beetle's droppings in pebbly black trailings. Unfortunately blister beetle grubs eat grasshopper eggs, but these beneficials as adults can do damage on other flowers and vegetables, including tomatoes. Handpicking (wear gloves!)is the easiest control for individual plants and small infestations. For larger problems use a mix of 1 pint pyrethrum with 1 T. isopropyl alcohol.
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