Holes in Zinnia Stems - Knowledgebase Question

Wyckoff, NJ
Avatar for marjim
Question by marjim
July 3, 1999
As soon as my zinnias bloomed something ate or attacked the stem at the top just beneath the bloom. All the blooms fell over and it is as if something was in the stem and came out as soon as the plant bloomed. What happened? Is it an insect or some disease? I could not find any insects or other signs of damage.

Answer from NGA
July 3, 1999
There is a species of insect that bores in the stalk of the zinnia flower. The insect may still be inside the stalk -- cut one open and see if you can find it. You can probably salvage your zinnias by cutting back the flower stalks, and letting them grow up again. I believe there is only one generation of these insects produced per summer, so future blossom stalks may not be affected.

The adults lay eggs in fall, and the eggs overwinter on weeds and flower stalks, so prevention requires fall cleanup around the flowerbed. Remove the debris from the zinnias and surrounding growth, and compost it far from the garden. Sorry I can't give you more info than this -- best of luck!

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