Any idea on this pest?

TwinCitiesPanda

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Somethings been eating the heck out of the leaves of wild violets I potted - only 2/4 pots affected. I searched leaves, stems, and dug in the dirt a bit and can't find the culprit. I'm concerned because I have iris and shamrock bulbs coming up in the same pots. The violets all over the yard don't seem to have this issue.

Edit: found the culprits. ID help? the big ones are dark enough to match the dirt well, the little green ones are master hiders- about the size of a grain of rice and hiding between stems and under dead leaves.
 

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digitS'

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Any idea?

I'm guessing but maybe flea beetles ...

Flea beetles are hard to spot, a) because they are small, b) because they are highly mobile.

Steve
 

TwinCitiesPanda

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Well, upon looking at the video, army worms, and cut worms online, I’m pretty sure it’s a variegated cutworm. They eat leaves and don’t cut at stems. The patterns look right and they do curl into a defensive “C” shape when touched and hide in dead leaves on the soil surface. Army worms are a type of cutworm as well.

At any rate, today when I found them and posted, I removed all I could find by hand and tweezers. I scraped the top inch of solid off the containers into the trash and repotted into larger containers (planned to do so anyway).

As I was doing this something falling from a leaf in my flower bed landed right by me in the lawn: another one had fallen off my peony (different bed than the potted plants were in). At the base I found several violets eaten to shreds. They are thriving in this other bed and I’m panicked. It seems so far they haven’t found the raised vegetable bed in the back yard. They can eat all the wild violets they want- but I’ll be super sad if they invade the vegetable garden.
 

Ridgerunner

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Since you have identified it as caterpillars I'd treat with BT "Bacillus Thuringiensis". This is an organic approved pesticide that gives the caterpillars a tummy ache and they quit eating, soon starving to death. It is caterpillar specific, it will not harm you, other insects like pollinators, or animals.
 

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