Pest eating rhubarb stalk

Asked September 14, 2016, 11:54 AM EDT

All summer long some insects have been eating the stalks of my rhubarb plant, killing off individual stalks. The entire plant is healthy but they invade the base of a stalk and eat away at the stalk itself. The insects are hard to see in the photos, but they kinda look like termites with the color of maggots. I forgot to put a scale for size but they are a little under 1/4 inch in length.

Fairfield County Connecticut rhubarb insect pest

3 Responses

Hello,

These insect do look like termites, and there have been a few reports of termites infesting on rhubarb, but they are not normally a pest of the plant. Termites do occasionally feed on live plants. Search nearby for a termite colony living in the ground or surrounding area. Is there dead wood or rotting lumber surrounding the rhubarb? You might want to move the rhubarb to a new location. Thoroughly examine and wash the roots after lifting to eliminate any termites on them.

Regards,
Carol Quish

Thank you for your quick response.

Well throw one more report on the pile I guess. The plant is right next to my house. Can I use nematodes to get rid of them? And move the plant after the stalks die off for the winter, right?

Hello,

Please check your home for termite damage near the rhubarb.
Parasitic nematodes are sold as a termite control measures, but it is not listed on many fact sheets from University so I do not know their effectiveness.

Regards,
Carol Quish