Need help with leaf-eating bugs (pics)

paulster2626(4-5)July 3, 2007

Okay so I walk out to my small vegetable garden this morning, and I immediately notice 2 things:

1) All of my plants (except the tomatoes) have had something eating their leaves.

2) There are LOTS of these little multi-coloured flies around.

Basically what I'm wondering is what typically causes this sort of leaf damage, and are these bugs the culprit? I can see no eggs under the leaves, nothing else really flying around except for a significant amount of little flies.

Any thoughts?

Here are some photos:

Mint:

Peppers:

The bugs (these are only about 3mm long - very small!)

They've really done a number on the new growth on my basil plant as well. This is my first garden ever, please tell me everything is okay!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
maineman(z5a ME)

Paulster,

I don't think the flies are eating the leaves. I don't know of any leaf-eating fly. I think you will need to catch the culprit in the act.

One thing you might try is to go out in the night with a flashlight (the new LED ones are quite good and I especially like the ones that you wear on your forehead, leaving both hands free). Check to see if slugs or any other nocturnal feeders are present.

MM

P.S. Your pictures are quite good.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 10:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimster(z7a MA)

It looks like a halictid bee, or sweat bee. These are beneficial. They are good pollinators and are not eating your plants.

Your photo is far better than any others I could find on the internet.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: Halictid Bee

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The leaf damage in the photos is minimal and I wouldn't worry too much about it. But you might want to catch the culprits - it's an edge eater - looks like slugs or grasshoppers to me. But it isn't the flies. ;)

Dave

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Violet_Z6(6a)

One thing you might try is to go out in the night with a flashlight (the new LED ones are quite good and I especially like the ones that you wear on your forehead, leaving both hands free). Check to see if slugs or any other nocturnal feeders are present.

Agreed.

:)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

The photo shows a fly, not a bee.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sarahlynnwhite

i have those same flies all around my garden, has anyone positively identified them... i was concerned as well that they may be laying eggs but i haven't seen any nor have i had any significant damage, but i am curious to find out what exactly they are. i agree they look and fly around more like a fly than a bee. they especially hang around and land on my corn. i have not seen them enter any flowers for pollination. sarah

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 1:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
paulster2626(4-5)

Alright then I shall go hunting this evening. My neighbors already think I'm crazy for taking photos of some half-grown plants, but once I go out in the middle of the night with a headlamp and a camera they will really start to wonder what is wrong with me!

They will appreciate my hard work come harvest time, I bet.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 1:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimster(z7a MA)

"The photo shows a fly, not a bee."

I know halictid bees look like flies. But look at the link below and see if the pics don't look like paulster's pic.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: Halictid Bee Pics 2

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 6:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimster(z7a MA)

jean001,

I do see some possible discrepancies between the halictid bee photos and paulster's photo. The position of the wings at rest is different. I don't know if that is sigificant. Also, the bee has hairs on its legs which I don't see on paulster's insect.

I searched a bit on flies. The closest to a match I came up with was tachinid flies. But I wasn't totally satisfied with that either. It would be nice if that's what they are because they parasitize a number of garden insect pests.

So, do you have any further thoughts on this? My knowledge of entomology is not great.

The least we can say is that neither bees nor flies harm plants (so far as I know) and the insect is almost certainly one or the other.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 7:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

For your consideration ;) I offer a photo of this good little guy, the Long-legged Fly, a member of the Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies.

The thorax hairs aren't apparent in paulster's pic but the eyes and thorax divisions match as do the wing shape, positioning, and veining.

What do you think?

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimster(z7a MA)

Ye gads! Flies, bees and now....bee flies!

You may be zeroing in on it.

I'm pretty much convinced that my halictid bee idea was wrong.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lilacs_of_may

WhatEVER they are, I have tons of them flying around my plants, too. I also have the same sort of leaf-eating damage.

I also have tons of little grasshoppers. They're not very big. Some are smaller than a fly. And some are tan, not green, although that's good camaflage (sp?) for high summer in Colorado because it matches all the dead grass.

Do I add them to the lengthy list of bad guys gunning for my crop? If so, how do I get rid of them?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 10:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It's a fly. Please notice the antennae. They belong to a fly. Bees have different antennae.

Flies don't make holes in plants.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 12:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sarahlynnwhite

i have noticed NO leaf damage around the areas that i constantly see these flies. i agree that flies do not harm plants, what exactly do they do? other than annoy i mean.... i have also seen them flying around my green beans and landing on their leaves for a short rest and then they are flying again. the ones that i have (other than the metallic color) do not resemble the halictid bee, they do resemble the long-legged fly pics, except without the long legs, LOL. sarah

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 7:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

what exactly do they do?

Who knows, Sarah? Fly things. ;)

Seriously, I was amazed when I was digging thru all the fly stuff on the web (1000's of species) and looking at all the pics what all some of them do. Hover flies, robber flies, face flies, false flies, bee flies, bottle flies, soldier flies...the lists went on and on. Check out the link below if you want to get really into the subject - pages and pages of photos.

Many act as pollinators, some are predators on bad guys like mites and aphids, some are the equivalent of trash collectors, and some just live to fly and reproduce.

Either way, the vast majority are no problem in the garden. ;)

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Diptera

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 9:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Since you don't have the right type of leaf damage, this may be way off base, but on my Swiss Chard where I have tons of leaf miner damage, I see lots of similar looking flies all of the time.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 12:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Leafminers are far smaller than the fly in paulster2626's picture.

Look for a chewing insect. I suspect a young (small) caterpillar.

That said, are the holes continuing? If not, the pest may be gone.

If new holes are continuing to appear, become a detective -- look on and under the leaves, daytime and about 10 PM or so.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jimster(z7a MA)

Jean, thanks for the help in distinguishing flies from bees. I learned a bit.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sarahlynnwhite

this kinda looks like the flies in my garden although the color is a bit varied, it was listed as a garden friendly fly...

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 5:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

sarahlynnwhite,

The picture you posted is of a syrphid fly, aka flower fly. And yes, it's a good guy. Its youngsters help limit aphids.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
samekid480(6)

I'm having the same problem with my bell pepper plants, basil and sunflowers. Most of the holes in the leaves are in the middle of the leaves, not the edge. I actually had to yank one of my pepper plants out. Sorry, I don't have pics. I've been wondering about those flies myself, everywhere. They are on my pumpkins all the time and they are fine.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hottomato

Paulster, wow! Your leaf damage is exactly like mine on my flowers and some plants in the veggie garden. Due to the large pieces of missing leaf, i initially suspected a rodent. BUT-I saw the culprit and it is an insect. I did not have my camera at the time but it was a large fly-type insect with a bright red-orange thorax and black head. It busily cut away at the edge until it had collected a portion of leaf, then flew away with it. It, or one of its friends, returned shortly and repeated this action.
I now spray the garden often with spinosad, although i do still get raided by these guys. No idea what they are. Leaf cutter?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 10:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

hottomato,

If the critter you saw removed a tidy half-circle from the edge of the leaf, it's a leafcutter bee.

Thus, no need to spray or treat. The "damage," such as it is, will continue for only several weeks and won't adversely affect your plants other than esthetically.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
qadosh

This gentleman has absolutely the right idea about what is eating his plants...This little bugger has eaten approximately 3/4 of my broad-leafed plants this season. I took a picture of it, but my pic is not as clear. This is definitely the fly doing the damage...I've watched them doing it. They start at the bottom of the plant and work their way up, first eating large holes, and eventually the complete leaf of the plant...Soon all that is left is a stalk...My neighbors have complained of the same thing. Pesticides are not effective.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Beetleguy

these are asian or japanese beetles, very terrible pest, search plant eating japanese beetles for info... very destructive they come from grubs, only out late at night, see them eat with flashlight, knock into pan of soapy water to kill, best to kill there larva now to august or they will return with a vengeance. these are a little known pest eating all trees and vegetation all over the US. They LOVE mint, peppers, thyme, most herbs, spices, sunflowers...dont eat tomatos for some reason...if you see little green "grasshoppers"? DONT KILL THEM, they are baby praying mantises there to eat your beetles, they are your best friends... best of luck, Steve

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:40PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Planting Oca in Tubs?
Has anyone done this with any success? How big a tub...
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada
Tomatoes in Autumn?
It's late summer, about to be autumn for me, and I...
Heather Riley
Asparagus woes
I piled leaves on my asparagus bed when I cut it back...
nancyjane_gardener
Can I use grape leaves as mulch?
I have alot of chopped and dried grape vine leaves....
zzackey
Romaine Lettuce help
So I plant 3 sets of 3 romaine plants about 2 1/2 weeks...
robbversion1
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™