Hosta damage

Asked May 14, 2016, 1:32 PM EDT

What is eating my hostas? I have hazelnut shells around them. I have killed a few tiny slugs in a container of beer. Should I be spraying with something? Do I need more hazelnut shells? What should I do?

Clackamas County Oregon

2 Responses

By far, the most common pests of newly emerging hostas are slugs and snails. Seldom are either seen while dining on plants because they feed at night. And unfortunately, the widespread notion that sharp items such as filbert shells or egg shells will discourage these pests is false. Both these creatures produce slime to protect their “foot” while traversing sharp objects.

In the first image, notice that the holes in the leaf at the right are in a row. That indicates the leaf was chewed before it unfurled.

Even though it appears that the newest leaves are unblemished, I suggest you monitor the plants at least for a while. Go out at night, flashlight in hand, to look for the pests. Be certain to check the undersides of the leaves as the youngest ones tend to feed there. If you would like to use a bait, consider Sluggo or another product with iron phosphate. Such products are entirely safe to use if applied sparsely according to label directions.

Thank you very much. This was very helpful!