Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are there dinosaurs in my backyard?

I’ve got one more post from our road trip to Eastern Washington but had to break from that topic to ask for help. Something is eating my Gunnera! Even though they are called dinosaur food I am pretty sure that particular creature is not the culprit. Nor do I suspect the slug. This plant is off the ground in a stock tank, making it harder for slugs to get to. Plus there is sharp gravel around it and the leaves themselves are not soft. I suspect they would slice up the silly slug who even tried to munch on one.
Have you had this happen to your Gunnera? Any ideas what the culprit is and most importantly how to get rid of it? I’ve looked all over the plant for any sign of the pest and all I found was a spider, who looked to be just passing through, and wouldn’t be responsible for this damage anyway. Help!


  1. I dunno, that's really horrible though! I found a gunnera discussion thread that mentions that slugs love them. Not sure how they could be getting into your stock tank (crawling up the side?) or if eggs could have got in there somehow... Bummer!

  2. PS Seeing how your tank is situated, I wonder if the greedy buggers are crawling up another plant and over to the gunnera? You might try isolating it next year, maybe putting copper around the outside or just sprinkling Sluggo on the emerging leaves. I do that with hostas and used to try to with ligularia but gave up, the slugs always won.

  3. Hi DG~~ Well, if you've ruled out hungry dinosaurs, that leaves only five billion (other culprits. Well, maybe not THAT many. LOL) You haven't seen any of those small green worms/caterpillars? This is what I'm thinking. There is the weevil but they usually chew the edges. There is the leaf hopper (they're just emerging from their spittle bug stage) but I doubt they could have done this much damage so quickly. There
    is also the flea beetle but they usually leave a bunch of tiny holes. Earwigs are another possibility. They hide within the folds of the leaves or on the ground. They love dahlia blossoms--evil, evil bugs. My niece who lives in Portland constantly does battle with cutworms--those nasty, gray, plump half-circle critters.

    Sorry if I'm waxing on to the garden savvy choir. (I could never do Twitter.)

    If you don't see the culprit by day, you could take a flashlight and play detective by night. This is what I'd do. Thanks to my ardent Sherlock alter ego I discovered a rather large family of tiny weevils on my hollyhock plants. I didn't know there was a hollyhock weevil but by George, you learn something every day.

    I hope you'll let us know...

  4. TQ for the Flaming Sword Bromeliad name. I do not have a Gunnera but this is not what I want to discover for any my plants. I hope this plant grows fast as it has nice leaves ;-)

  5. Your poor gunnera! I think Grace is on to your problem: from the look of the leaf damage I'd also say cutworms or those green caterpillars. The green ones are unbelieveably difficult to actually see, though. I had one on an indoor streptocarpus and it took us almost a month to see the darn pests: they actually go down into the dirt in tiny crevices during the day. And when they're out munching, they align with the leaf edge. Good luck with the hunt!

  6. How rude! I had some holes in my gunnera before, but not that many. That is just plain greedy. I did just catch a caterpillar in the act on a colocasia yesterday, the way that the holes are shapes with irregular edges makes me think caterpillar, although I'm no expert. I've seen several different types of caterpillars in the garden this year, maybe they're more abundant for some reason.
    This is what the jerk looked like on my colocasia:

  7. Karen - I should put copper around the edge, good call! It would certainly be easy enough to do.

    Grace - THANK YOU! No worries about waxing to a savvy choir, savvy I am not. I am an organic gardener (excepting a brief love affair with Corry's) partly due to my laziness in regards to critters. I've been pretty lucky with the just let'm be attitude. But this destruction is unacceptable! Thanks for all the ideas, I'm going to be digging deeper tonight and with a flashlight!

    Stephanie - it is a very fast grower, thanks!

    Thanks Jane - I need all the luck I can get!

  8. Great picture Megan, thanks for the link. Looks like you found this guy munching n broad daylight huh?


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