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New Grower in Canada, need help with a pest eating my leaves overnight! (Photos linked in post)

vpnisnice

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Hello everyone,

This is my first year growing tobacco. I have them in fabric bags as seen in the attached photos. One of them in particular, the best one of my 4 plants, has some leaves which have been getting eaten lately.

Last night I took the fabric bag with the plant inside, and this morning the leaves were still chewed on!

This makes me think that the pest is burrowing in the soil during the day and then coming out at night and eating the leaves, and then going back in the soil again.

How can I solve/fix this?

I've seen one or two caterpillars over the last few weeks munching on the leaves and I quickly killed them. But this one seems to be hiding in the soil, is there a way I can find him/her without having to disturb too much of the soil?

Photo #1
Photo #2
Photo #3
Photo #4

P.S. Photo #4 I think is some poop that was on the leaves after I noticed a leaf above that area was eaten. Not sure if that will help narrow the search for what the actual pest is.

P.P.S. I am also rather concerned that my plants won't get to the point where I can harvest their leaves in time, as I only have about a month left until my first expected frost date and the one that I have in the photos, the best plant that I have, is hardly even a foot high. I am hoping for the best!!
 

ChinaVoodoo

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P.P.S. I am also rather concerned that my plants won't get to the point where I can harvest their leaves in time, as I only have about a month left until my first expected frost date and the one that I have in the photos, the best plant that I have, is hardly even a foot high. I am hoping for the best!!
Your pictured plant looks very young and I am also worried that you won't get a harvest. However, being in pots, you can take them inside at night when it's expected to get below zero. Not knowing where in Canada you live, I can say that that strategy in Edmonton would probably extend your season another month.
 

ChinaVoodoo

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The first frost day is sometimes but not always the general weather pattern during that time period. I find it's usually a one off, a couple cold days that the tobacco can manage handling. Tobacco is good to minus 2, and it is quite resilient if it's followed by sunny weather. Only once in 7 years has the first frost day been one where I had to harvest the entire crop.
 

vpnisnice

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Look at the underside of the leaves. The contours of the eaten areas and the appearance of the poop suggests a hornworm. Canada is a big place, so I don't know if you are in the range of a sphinx moth.

Bob
Hmm yes looking at the hornworm photos now it could have been the one that I saw a few weeks ago munching along on a leaf. I will look more into them and hopefully devise a plan to get him dead tonight thanks for the tip!
 

vpnisnice

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Your pictured plant looks very young and I am also worried that you won't get a harvest. However, being in pots, you can take them inside at night when it's expected to get below zero. Not knowing where in Canada you live, I can say that that strategy in Edmonton would probably extend your season another month.
Thanks for that man yes I think bringing them all in at night will be the only hope. Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes early on with the growing so for next year I have no doubt I will get a much better yield. I will be looking into getting some grow lights so I can start them from seed myself as well.

I am around the Banff area but on the BC side of the provincial border. Not too sure if the pest is a hornworm or not but I'm going to look into it online and see what remedy I can find. My main problem is just being unable to see the bloody thing when it's out!
 

Snowblithe

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I have seen hornworm in the Okanagan, but never in Alberta.
Same. I actually have to purchase the little devils from a pet store for $1.50 each as a treat for our gecko. @vpnisnice if you were closer I’d volunteer to collect them myself

Edit: @ChinaVoodoo actually come to think of it, I remember finding them in my Mum’s garden in Lethbridge when I was a wee boy, so maybe they just like it further south?
 

skychaser

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Looks like an army worm. We had them here a couple years ago. It was a very local thing in certain areas. A friend who lives about 4 miles from me had them eat half his garden. He was plucking off half a coffee can full a day. I never saw a single one here. There is a type of bird that follows the moths that lay the eggs and feed on the worms. Can't remember what the bird was called now. He saw a lot of them too. It all lasted about 2-3 weeks and the worms and birds were gone. Never seen them before here and none since.
 

tullius

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With the diamond markings, brownish tan head, white lateral line and tail hump, could it be an angle shades (phlogophora meticulosa) caterpillar? Looks very similar. Wonder how it got over here..

angle-shades-brown-form-of-caterpillar-6703.jpg
 
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deluxestogie

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Yay! It's a caterpillar. See how easy that was?

Caterpillars anchor their rear end, then sweep the mouth end in an arc, eating a nice, smooth circumference as they go. They tend to avoid secondary veins (until their mouths are much larger). It's the same for army worms, navy worms and peace corps worms—and hornworms. The remedy is to identify the hole early, and eliminate the caterpillar.

Bob
 

vpnisnice

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Looks like an army worm. We had them here a couple years ago. It was a very local thing in certain areas. A friend who lives about 4 miles from me had them eat half his garden. He was plucking off half a coffee can full a day. I never saw a single one here. There is a type of bird that follows the moths that lay the eggs and feed on the worms. Can't remember what the bird was called now. He saw a lot of them too. It all lasted about 2-3 weeks and the worms and birds were gone. Never seen them before here and none since.
With the diamond markings, brownish tan head, white lateral line and tail hump, could it be an angle shades (phlogophora meticulosa) caterpillar? Looks very similar. Wonder how it got over here..

angle-shades-brown-form-of-caterpillar-6703.jpg
Hmmm, might be Phlogophora periculosa: the range matches a little better
Yay! It's a caterpillar. See how easy that was?

Caterpillars anchor their rear end, then sweep the mouth end in an arc, eating a nice, smooth circumference as they go. They tend to avoid secondary veins (until their mouths are much larger). It's the same for army worms, navy worms and peace corps worms—and hornworms. The remedy is to identify the hole early, and eliminate the caterpillar.

Bob


Thank you very much for your responses! After weighing all of these up it definitely seems like some sort of Angle Shades caterpillar. Now that we found the name/species of the culprit, that's a good start.

When I took my plant inside lastnight and checked again in the morning it didn't look like anything more had been eaten since I got the little guy in the photos. So I think for now the problem is solved. I guess the best strategy going forward would just be to check these frequently and squish anything I do see when/if I do see them. And maybe going into next year I can research a little more as to what I can bring into my garden/property that might help limit the numbers of these moths from appearing. We're planning on getting a bat house made to help with the mosquitos and for their poop as good nitrogen containing fertilizer; maybe they like to kill moths too!

Thanks again everybody and let's hope I can get at least a little bit of a harvest from that one plant. Gotta have some success for my first year as a beginner right hahah :LOL:
 
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