Leaves of Morning Glory Riddled with Holes
The leaves of my morning glory vines are riddled with holes. I haven't seen any insects. What is eating the leaves?
Several different insects can cause the damage you describe. Fortunately morning glories are so vigorous that the damage may be unsightly but not harmful to the plants.
Take a close look along the stems and under the leaves for the golden tortoise beetle. It is orange with black spots and about ¼ inch long. The spiny immature stage carries fecal matter on its back for camouflage and protection from predators. If you can't stand the damage try plucking the insects off the plants and dropping them into soapy water. It's time consuming but the most environmentally friendly way to manage these pests.
A trip to the garden in the evening may reveal a different pest, earwigs. These slender reddish brown beetles have pinchers on the back end and like to feed on leaves and petals of various plants. The earwigs prefer cool dark damp places to hide. Use this to your advantage and try trapping these hungry critters. Rolled up newspaper laying at the base of the plant, cardboard cylinder from a roll of paper towels filled with straws or in old tuna fish cans baited with fish oil or vegetable oil make great traps. Place those traps out in the early evening and in the morning dump the trapped earwigs into a container of soapy water. If this isn't possible you may want to use one of the natural products like insecticidal soap or Neem. And as always read and follow label directions carefully.
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