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tiny worms on hibiscus leaves

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by layla on November 19, 2004 02:42 AM
Hi--fellow gardeners. I have had problems with tiny worms eating lots of holes in my hibiscus plants every spring. I mash them with my fingers but would like to know how to prevent them from ever getting on the plant. Does anyone know what they are and if they are soil born or left by flying insects? Thanks for your info. Layla
by Longy on November 21, 2004 12:16 AM
Hi Layla, sounds like the larvae of a moth or some flying insect. I'm not a big fan of chemical sprays, but if you get a caterpillar spray or dust it'll only help for the immediate term. A systemic will stay in the plant for a season. There are some, including malathion, which are harmful to hibiscus so you may want to research this further. Google hibiscus pests for more info.

You can make chilli sprays and also garlic sprays which have a short term effect. If the insects are doing no real damage then maybe squishing them is the go. Provide a reliable water source for birds and they may do the cleanup for you as well as providing the pleasure of watching them at their bath.

For the extended long term, a healthy plant will take care of itself to a large deegree. If your plant is fed too high in a nitrogenous fertilizer, it will have more lush growth and be more palatable to insects. Ensure you have suitable amounts of potash in the fert you use as this strengthens cells and toughens the plant making it less appealing to chewing insects.
Anyway, hopefully if nothing else, this post will prompt further replies from other more knowledgable gardeners. good luck.
by ServantsHeart2003 on November 22, 2004 03:17 AM
I have had these tiny green caterpillars on my Hibiscus as well. I have been told to spray with soapy water?? Anyway, they do no REAL damage to the plant and I only see them in the Fall which is when they are eating their last meals before going into cocoon. You can, if you see them, pick them off (as I did the last few I say) or sqash them. New leaves grow back on the plant so I do not worry about it. Eventually the old-mostly eaten--leaves will fall off and in the Spring you will see the beautie of the fresh new leaves then the flowers. Here the bigger problem is aphids that come and lay eggs IN the seed pods right after the flowering is complete. [Razz] Then in late Summer the tree is FULL of these nasty looking bugs. [shocked] They also do not damage the tree but it sure looks nasty and complicate gathering of seeds!! hehehe I was told spraying frquently (after it rains etc) with soapy water should keep them off. Also a bird feeder close by and a water source will work wonders since birds LOVE these little nasty bugs!! [Big Grin] And the caterpillars as well I bet!! [kitty] To draw birds to the area is easy--simply buy one of the hook thingys or a stake and drive into the ground within sight of your afflicted trees/plants, hand a feeder there and keep it stocked with fresh food in Fall and Winter--all year round is good but it will be frequented more often when there are less food sources available. The birds will start to come to your feeder to dine and believe me they WILL notice the critters and they will start to pluck them off!! [thumb]

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by Buglady on November 23, 2004 08:47 AM
If you want to kill them use Bt.. its safe for beneficials and you to use. Bt can be sold under the name Dipel. They may be IO moth larva or saddleback larva, watch picking them off ... many of the caterpillars that feed on hibiscus sting.

Have a photo?

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The Buglady
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans,
Educating the world... one bug at a time

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