What's eating my spinach? (pics)

vickima(z5 MA)May 18, 2009

This happens every year to spring spinach and I've never been able to figure out what's doing it. The pics are of two sets of large leaves, but I have many seedlings in the bed most of which are damaged. The same bed also contains some radish seedlings, most of which have been defoliated, and lettuce seedlings which have far less damage.

I thought slugs only ate the outside of leaves. And I thought the damage from flea beetles would be lots of little holes rather than these big ones. Can you tell by looking at the pics what creature did the deed? Could there be more than one kind?

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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hi! I'm thinking slugs did that! If I'm not careful to use the slug bait once in a while (it's organic, but I still am not wild about using it) my young cabbage looks just like that. They will go right in the middle of a leaf and start munching! A sure sign that it's a slug is to look at the underside of the leaf for little silvery trails (and the occassional slug that's napping)... If you want to be really sure, check the leaves after dark some evening and you'll probably see exactly who is doing the dirty deed.

Cheers!

Sunni

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 11:02AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Caterpillars can do that, too.

The damage you show inthe 2nd image is old, some of the damage in the 1st image (towards the right) appears recent.

Whenever you see new damage, go out at 10 PM or so an look carefully, including the undersides of the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:28PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

I'd second that it is slug damage. They have been very bad in my area this year because of all the rain. Like Sunni, I am using the organic iron phosphate slug bait (sluggo, etc). I'm not thrilled about using it either, but this is the first year I've resorted to it, it is working and it doesn't appear to be affecting anything else.

One thing to note: after the slugs die, the hole will appear to grow larger as the leaf grows, but there will not be new holes.

Bellatrix

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 1:12PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

So it sounds like slugs. Gosh, for as much damage as there is, do you think there's a whole army or just a few athletic ones to cover a whole 8'x3' bed?

I did put some sluggo plus down the other day, but there's so much damage already, I can't tell if it's helped. I've tried going out at night to look, but I guess I go to bed too early cause I never seem to catch 'em in the act.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 1:40PM
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