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Hi all.  I have a dilemma on my hands.  My dahlias are being savaged by a mysterious pest. It is not slugs, I've checked for caterpillars and cannot find any, does anyone know what it could be?  Holes are being left in the leaves, some even savaged, the holes look like the wings of a lacewing.  Thanks


A guess -not slugs or caterpillars you say, bit early for earwigs they usually go for flowers-have you any pigeons that visit the garden?-they do go for brassicas-is the damage overnight or in the daytime?

I have the occasional pigeon that visits the garden, but not where the dahlias are, they tend to stay at the bottom of the garden where the feeders are and that way they are a safe distance from the cat and English BullMastiff.  I'm not really sure when the damage happens, I've just noticed it over the last couple of weeks, if it's any help the same is happening to the delphiniums nearby.


Delphiniums and dahlias are probably slugs and snails favourite snacks, so double-check for them.  They don't always leave obvious trails.  When you say the holes are like the wings of a lacewing, do you mean the structure is intact, but the green material between the veins is being eaten?  If so, it could be a sever leaf miner attack.  A photo would really help.


I have just been out and done a slug/snail run, one of my dahlias had 3 snails on it munching away, but not any longer

Have you checked for cutworms?


Leaf miner sounds more like it, never heard of cutworms (I must research them)

BOB - yes the structure is intact but green material is being eaten,that is some of the damage, the other damage looks like caterpillar but no signs.

It's definitely not slugs or snails, there have been signs but I do checks am and pm, and use slug bait and traps.


If it is insect damage ike leaf miners or cutworms/caterpillars and you are not averse to non-organic controls, give them a spray with a systemic insecticide which will be absorbed and spread throughout the plants.  Provado ultimate bug killer is a good one.  Systemics are the only things that will work against miners, which eat the leaves from the inside, so contact insecticides are useless againt those.

Thanks all, one final thing, would it be worth removing the damaged leaves?

Latest update.

I've been out this morning and found out what the problem is, "earwigs".  I shouldn have thought more about it really, as at the weekend I found a nest of them in a solar light near the affected plants.  I have removed the leaves and the solar lights as they all had earwigs in them.  Any ideas of how to keep these pests away?


So one of the things I discounted might be the culprit-the classic remedy is an upturned flower pot filled with straw atop a cane-they hide in there during the day as they are nocturnal-so just empty them out and do with them what you will-they are not all bad and do some good in the garden

It wont get rid of them but at least it gives you some control

They seem to be in abundance this year, I was digging over ther garden yesterday and there was a nest under my pieris.  In the two solar lights near the dahlias, both had nests in so they been moved into the wildlife garden.  Also the amount of red ant nests in my garden in unbelievable, a total of 6 so far this year.


Hi all

I am a new member so if the blog below has been said before I apologise 

i have the same problem with snails and slugs but I advice you all ,if you have any fauna growing in pots you need to check actually under the pot !!!,as slugs and snails will crawl under them ,also a great hiding place is under any rims around the top of the pots ,I regularly find several snails and slugs residing there over the day just run your fingers around the underside of the rim and you will easily locate them ,wear rubber surgical cloves if you are a bit Squamish lol.

one last note,you need to look very carefully as most people tend to look for rather large slugs and snails but on very close inspection you will find juinior slugs/snails no bigger than a couple of millimetres and they will be the ones munching away without you even seeing them,then you will claim you have no slugs or snails but you have !!!

happy days 


I would leave the solar lights. At least you will know where to find them! Sounds like they are working the same as a straw trap.

I found this Beatle eating my dahlia leaves

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