Whole Leaf Tobacco

What's Munching My Leaves and Leaving White Manure?

zicot

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Hey y'all, new to the forums, so I really appreciate any help given. I tried to look through other threads to see if I could find my answer, but I couldn't or wasn't able to search well enough. Anyway, I am growing outdoors this year and the plants are doing great EXCEPT something has just been eating them to heck. They are eating large parts out of the leaf, and leaving a white manure I think on the leaves (the picture of the suspect white manure was a plant that was under the mesh when it happened so it wasn't a bird). I'm suspicious that it's some kind of caterpillar or worm that's causing the issues, because it seems some plants are starting to "sucker" out on the main stem. I've attached pictures of what's going on, so hopefully someone here more knowledgable then I can chime in and help! Currently I am already spraying them with caterpillar killer (btk bacteria) and a pyrethrin and neem oil spray; I've introduced healthy nematodes to the soil to hopefully take care of larva that may be in the soil and would be making things worse, and ladybugs as well to feed on potential larva on the plants or the buds. As well, I've noticed that the ladybugs like to hang out in the buds of the bigger plants. Maybe that's just their nature, or maybe they're feeding on something in there. Anyway, any and all help is really appreciated! If there is any more information or pictures I can give to help y'all help me, please let me know! Thanks!
 

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Knucklehead

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These images may help. I would look closely for grasshoppers, slugs, or tobacco hornworms. Look closely on the underside of the leaves for tobacco hornworms, look with a flashlight at night for slugs, and keep an eye out for grasshoppers in the surrounding area. One of our members from CA has a problem with grasshoppers, in my area hornworms are a more likely culprit. Welcome to the forum.

 

deluxestogie

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Welcome to the forum. Feel free to introduce yourself in the Introduce Yourself forum. You might also wish to start a grow log in the Grow Blogs forum.

My initial thought is that the damage looks like that from grasshoppers or a pretty good size hornworm. Neither produce white frass (poop). Most insects and their larvae expel frass as dark colored, quite dry pellets. If you're using BT already, a hornworm wouldn't stand a chance of getting large enough to eat that much. Small hornworms avoid eating the secondary veins.

I suspect that the white spatters are unrelated to the leaf damage, and might be from arachnids above the plant. Some herbivore mammals will munch a small tobacco plant--maybe once or twice, but promptly decide it's not very tasty.

From the photos, I can't tell how large the plants are. The side suckers should be removed.

So, I can't really offer much in the way of a specific culprit.

Bob
 

zicot

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It may be grasshoppers, I am in California. I've inspected the plants VERY well on probably 4-5 occassions, undersides and all and have never been able to find anything! Its like this invisible culprit! I'll definitely start doing some defenses against grasshoppers as we have those here as well as slugs. Thanks yall!

As well it seems like the damage has been slowing down, especially on the bigger top leaves ever since I have been spraying the btk bacteria. Do you guys know how safe it is to spray often? Every 3-4 days or?
 

deluxestogie

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BT is perfectly safe to use that often. The leaf will not be smoked for many moons after it is harvested. (Just don't be breathing a bunch of that stuff while you spray.)

Bob
 

zicot

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Dang I think I definitely have grasshoppers! What did you do to deal with it?
 

Alpine

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Keep the grass as low as possible, and try to attract little wild birds. A couple of chickens would do wonders... guinea fowls are even better. The only insecticide that works against grasshoppers is deltamethryne, but is authorized (here) only on alfalfa. Preventive warfare is your best option: till the soil in autumn and leave it exposed to ice and snow during winter, feed wild birds regularly all year long and kill every hopper every time you see one.

pier
(proud grasshopper slayer since 2015)
 
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