Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Case of the Disappearing Aquilegias

As I did my usual prowl through the garden this morning, I came upon something shocking! The two red-and-yellow-flowered aquilegias (columbines) in my semi-shade bed had no leaves. I am quite sure they were fully clothed in leaves yesterday.I looked closer and saw the centimeter-long green wormish culprits inching their way up and down the bare stems. I tried taking pictures of them, but couldn't quite get focused on the little things.

The baffling part is that they didn't eat any of the blooms or the neighbouring aquilegia (which flowers purple, though it finished blooming a while ago). I sprayed some permethrin on the plant and cut off the majority of the remaining branches. If the plants don't grow some leaves again by winter, they probably won't survive. I can't believe it. Just as I get all the colors in that bed to match, some pest strips an innocent flower of its leaves!


kate said...

I had this happen last year. It was the weirdest thing - one day the columbines were full of leaves and the next, they were stripped. Have you noticed how they tag team on each leaf? The cutworms start on the outer edge of a leaf and work their way to the centre. Then they climb up the stem to the next leaf and proceed stripping that. I hate them!!!

Leafminers are attacking my columbines at the moment. At least that isn't as bad as the cutworms though.

quu said...

Those worms are huge problem here in Finland too. Last year was so many Aquilegias without leafs. This year no small worms, but nasty and smaller worms that attack buds of Aquilegias.. Have you seen them? Buds look weird and get brown. Some buds did open normally, but next year problem will be bigger.