The Q&A Archives: Rudbeckia Petals Eaten

Question: All of my rudbeckia flowerheads that are opening and have the petals all eaten away. Some of the leaves also have holes. What might it be? I looked the plants over and did not see any caterpillars or other insects.

Answer: Caterpillars, beetles and snails or slugs are the likely culprits. If the flowers are opening with missing petals, or holes in the petals, I'd suspect a budworm (little caterpillar that feeds inside the unopened flower). Since there are also holes in the leaves, but you don't see any insects, I'd suspect slugs or snails are feeding at night. You can go outside at night with a flashlight and try to catch these pests in the act of gorging themselves on your plants. If you discover slugs or snails, you can handpick them or set traps out in the garden to capture them. Best wishes with your garden!

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