My Vegetable Garden is Feeding the Insects!

Asked July 12, 2020, 10:59 PM EDT

I have a really nice vegetable garden that we have been enjoying but suddenly almost every leaf has holes or, in the case of the tender leaf lettuce, ragged edges from something that has been eating holes in the leaves. I do not see any insect on the plants during the day (unless they are too small to see). I tried spraying a mild solution of soapy water then rinsing it off but it did not help. The holes are showing up on my lettuce, spinach, kale, and radishes. So far, my squash, bush beans, peas and tomatos have avoided the scurge. Do you know what could be eating the leaves and making the holes in every edible leaf? I live in Sisters, Oregon. Thanks! Marcy

Deschutes County Oregon

1 Response

Hello in Sisters, There are so many pests that could be doing this damage and most likely it is more than one. The kale looks like the pest is feeding from the underside of the leaf, eating everything but the top epidermis. When this top layer dries out, it falls off and created the hole. My best suggestion, for now, is to get some sticky traps, both yellow and blue if you can find or order them. Then place them in your garden according to the instructions and see if you get insects on them. From there you can start identifying what insects might be doing this to your plants. In all cases, the insect has chewing mouthparts so that leaves mostly butterfly or moth larvae (caterpillars) or beetles and their larvae, maybe grasshoppers or earwigs. These are the main suspects. If you go out at night with a flashlight perhaps you will find some of these and would have a better idea what might be causing the damage. Until you know what is wreaking havoc on your garden you cannot really manage it. Monitor your garden at different times of the day to see if you can find any culprit chewing on your plants.