The Q&A Archives: holes in leaves

Question: Holes being eaten in sweet potato vines. would like to treat, but don't like insecticides...would garlic spray work? also have holes in hosta, but am thinking those are probably the slugs starting up. Have used diotonacious (spelling?) earth for that before, but wonder if there's anything better.

Answer: Diatomaceous earth can be used for slugs as can beer-baited slug traps and the newer baits formulated with iron phosphate (such as Sluggo).

The ornamental sweet potato vine is sometimes attacked by flea beetles; these make smaller sized holes and are active for about a month. As long as the plant is growing well, they will not kill it although the damage can be unsightly. Flea beetles can be treated with carbaryl (Sevin). Larger holes could be the work of a caterpillar, these can be controlled by handpicking or with Bt (such as Dipel) or spinosad. There are occasionally beetles that attack this plant, they can be handpicked or try carbaryl (such as Sevin.) You can certainly try the garlic and see if it helps.

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