What is eating my petunias is a question to ask, as you would see that your pretty flowers are being bitten and losing their strength, and at times even death.
When growing petunia plants, many pests eat the leaves, flowers, and roots of petunias. Discover every aspect that you must know about pests of petunia and their control by reading this article.
- What’s Eating Your Petunia Plants?
- How to Keep Your Petunias Safe from Pests
What’s Eating Your Petunia Plants?
Some insects or animals that you should watch out for as they eat petunias are budworms, leaf miners, spider mites, aphids, squirrels, rabbits, scales, and thrips. You would even see the bites that the snails would leave and even some bird bites as well.
– Leaf Miners
Leaf miners are species of moths, sawflies, beetles, and flies with larvae that live in and eat the leaves of plants from within. It is very easy to tell that there are leaf miners in your petunias by observing whitish or colorless patches in the leaves.
To know the specific type of insect with larvae, you may need to wait until they have become adults. To do this, collect a leaf with the transparent mark and then store it in a ventilated container. In a few days or weeks, according to the species, the larvae should turn into an adult, and they would grow and eat your flowers, and you would see their bites.
– Snails and Slugs
These are gastropods that show no mercy to petunia plants, especially their leaves. If you see slugs or snails eating petunias in your garden, you should use extra effort to protect the plants. Snails are slow-moving gastropods that mostly operate at night. They create long holes in the leaves of the petunias, and may even leave their slime on the plants.
Slugs are just like snails, but they lack shells. Slugs also mostly come in black and move quite faster than snails. These insects may eat different parts of the plants, including their lower stems and petioles.
Just like snails, they crease long holes that are not wide, but long in their shape. These gastropods also eat many other types of plants in the garden, so do not examine just your petunias.
“Budworm” refers to a species of moth that is a serious pest of many types of plants. There are different types of budworms and they have specific plants that they prefer. These worms are the ones that attack petunias, such as tobacco budworms lay their eggs on the leaves.
In a short period of time, the larvae eat the leaves until they grow into adulthood, and as the worms grow they would eat the flowers, and you could see them from the bites they leave.
When they are adults and are ready to lay more eggs, the adult bud worms look for more petunia plants. The worms that prefer petunias are brown and move slowly. Their adults are also brown. You can tell that there are bud worms on your petunias when you see long bite marks on the edges of the leaves.
Birds such as chickens, turkeys, and sparrows eat and enjoy petunia leaves, and you would see the cut on your flowers that is the point of their beak. Almost every bird can destroy the plant’s leaves if they see insects or other invertebrates on the leaves, but these birds can peck at the leaves sometimes. Turkeys and chickens are also known to scratch and damage the roots of petunias.
These birds are hunting for pests, so if you see them around the petunia plants always, it could indicate that there are other pests around the plant and the birds may not be directly responsible for the plant attack. Try examining the plants, especially at night, to find the pests.
Rabbits are little cute mammals that give tears to farmers and other lovers of plants. These little mammals are very disastrous as they show no mercy to plants, especially the leaves. Remember that if you have petunia plants in your garden and your garden is occasionally visited by rabbits, you must protect your petunias and other plants in the garden.
Rabbits always eat, as they want to reduce the size of their incisors, as they will move to almost every plant in your garden slowly but surely. If you can only see your petunia leaves getting destroyed and not the leaves of other plants, especially vegetables, it means that rabbits may not be the main culprits.
– Aphids, Scales, Spider Mites, and Thrips
All these pests are very popular garden pests that attack both vegetables and ornamental plants. They slowly destroy the petunia flowers and leaves, making the plants very unattractive as they live on the petioles, stems, and some parts of the leaves. Luckily, they are easy to prevent, as you discover them eventually.
Squirrels are little mammals that should not be a headache to you, so long as they are not hungry or thirsty. At first, your petunia plants may not attract the squirrels, and the mammals might just be looking for sweet seeds and fruits in your garden. However, if they taste the petunia leaves, they might come back for more.
If there are squirrels living close to your garden and there is an access point such as a tree branch that crosses your garden fence, squirrels will have access to your plants. These mammals are very disastrous, especially to vegetable crops, so you must prevent them from having access to your garden.
Caterpillars are the larvae or developing forms of insects, especially those of butterflies and moths. The most disastrous caterpillars are those of moths, as they are larger and more likely to consume more food than those of butterflies.
The mother moth lays her eggs on the petunia leaves and the caterpillars start eating as soon as they hatch, and this could be the bites you are seeing on the flowers or on the leaves.
Note that many insect species that caterpillars prefer single plants, so you may not see the symptoms of caterpillar attack on other plants. To know if caterpillars are responsible for your petunia leaf attack, you must see them around the plant first or notice that many birds are flying around the plant to eat larvae.
How to Keep Your Petunias Safe from Pests
To keep your petunias from being eaten, you can make sure of insecticidal soaps, apply neem oil, spread diatomaceous powder, place natural predator, build a wire mesh fence, install a motion-sensing device, pick them off, and even place a beer trap.
– Make Use of Insecticidal Soap
“Insecticidal soap” is just a fancy term for any soapy water that can repel insects from the leaves of your plants. You can very easily use of any soap, even non-expensive ones, to repel insect pests like caterpillars and thrips from the petunia leaves. All you need to do is to dissolve the soap in water so that the water becomes foamy, this is a homemade repellent that will be handy to you.
If you need what to spray on petunias for bugs, you can always spray the homemade bug spray for petunias on the plant’s leaves and around the plant.
The pests that are on the leaves or around the plant will die in the instant or run away, while the others that would have attacked the plants will not do so anymore. Note that if you have nocturnal pests disturbing your plants, make use of the soap in the evening and see results back in the day.
– Apply Need Oil
Neem oil is extracted that comes from neem seeds. This oil has a slightly harsh fragrance, but it repels a lot of invertebrate pests because of the smell. You only need to spray the oil on the leaves that you saw holes in, and if there are still fresh and uneaten leaves in the plant, you must make sure that they get some droplets of the oil.
For mammalian pests, note that neem oil may not be that effective. In their case, you can make use of hot pepper powder to repel them. You just need to spray the powder around and over the plant. Note that you may need to use these products regularly so that they can stay effective.
– Spread Diatomaceous Earth Powder
This is a product that mostly comes in solid or powder form that helps to repel a very wide range of insects and other invertebrate animals. This product is non-toxic to people so long as you wash your hands well after making use of it, so it is safe to be used in the garden.
All you must do is spray the powder on the petunia plants’ leaves that are being attacked by insect pests. Remember, do not use too much, as just a little amount is enough. In short, you should follow the instructions that come with the product.
– Place Natural Predators
Employing natural predators is a form of biological control in which you make use of nature to fix your pest problems. Some examples of natural predators are birds such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc. These birds eating the pests will not be harmed, but your plant will be safer, except the birds scratch the roots.
There are also dogs that would easily repel some mammalian pests from your yard when they see them. In addition, you can also use lizards to control the population of slugs and insects in your garden. As you can see, this is a cheap yet very effective method. You just need to know the predator of pests in your garden.
– Build a Wire Mesh Fence Around the Petunias
Building the fence around the plants is best to prevent any bird or mammal that is attacking the plants. A wire mesh fence is safe for your petunias as it still allows air and light to reach the plants. However, it prevents pests from getting close to the plants.
When installing the fence, please dig up to five inches deep if you have pests such as rabbits and groundhogs that dig holes in your garden. While groundhogs may not be major culprits of your petunia attack, you must put them into consideration if you can find them in your garden.
– Install Motion-Sensing Devices
Motion-sensing devices are those that can detect and repel pests, especially at night. They work by detecting any sudden or weird movement and make use of their light, water, or sound systems to repel pests such as squirrels. According to the type of device that you buy, some will either attack the pest with water, a bright light, or noise.
The devices are guaranteed to work, especially for slightly large nocturnal pests such as rabbits. It is very important that you invest and install some of them in your garden, especially nearer to your petunia plants.
– Pick off the Pests From the Leaves
So long as they are insects whether they are adults or still caterpillars, snails, and other types of invertebrates, you can pick off the pests from the petunia leaves without getting scared that they will have you. Remove the pests as soon as you see them so that they do not harm the plants.
You can kill them immediately or take them to a bush nearby, but note that they might return if you do not kill them. You can also preserve them using an alcohol solution to showcase the beautiful pests that are attacking your plants. What you choose to do with them is fully your choice.
– Make a Beer Trap
A beer trap is a homemade trap that you can make to kill gastropods like snails and slugs, as well as some other types of invertebrates in your garden. Beer is rich in yeast and these pests love the smell of yeast, so you can attract and drown them with the beer trap when you place it in different parts of your garden.
You can make a beer trap by pouting any type of beer into a bowl and placing the bowl near your plants that have snail and slug problems, this is a very easy way if you think of how to get rid of budworms on petunias because it is the best way.
In the morning, you should see a lot of dead gastropods in the trap. Note that you may want to do this daily for seven to ten days to eliminate these pests from your garden.
Now you know so many petunia pests to watch out for as well as ways to control them, right?
Remember the following points from this article:
- The vertebrate pests that attack petunia plants are birds, rabbits, squirrels, and others.
- The non-vertebrate pests that attack petunia plants are insects, insect larvae, gastropods, and others.
- The cheapest way to repel pests from your yard is to pick them up with your hands.
- Another cheap way to repel pests from your petunias is to employ natural predators such as birds for insects and dogs for little mammals.
- A beer trap is a very effective method to catch and kill gastropods in your yard.
You can now grow healthy and pest-free petunia plants. Remember to share this article with friends that have similar problems.