Purple petunia with white spots

How do I control sucking insects on petunias? The eggs look like…

We don’t know of any sucking insects that exactly match those you have described. Until we know what they are, we can’t recommend ways to control them.
Aphids are the sucking insects most likely to affect petunias. If they are present, the “little white dots” might be their shed skins. Although aphids are tiny, if they are present, you should be able to see them moving slowly on the stems or leaves. If the insecticide has been effective, it’s possible the aphids will be gone even though the shed skins remain. Aphids sometimes remain on the plants for a while after they are killed. Lack of movement indicates they are dead.
Living aphids and shed skins:

Wooly aphids have a cotton-like appearance:

Lacewing eggs vaguely resemble what you have described. Lacewings eat other insects, including aphids, and should not be disturbed. They do not damage plants.

If aphids are present, but the insecticide has been ineffective, try another of the control methods mentioned in this bulletin:
Aphids in Home Gardens

If none of what we have discussed fits what you are seeing on the petunias, please reply to this message with sharp close-up photos attached.

George WeigelCalibrachoa is a good alternative to petunias in a pot or hanging basket. This one is ‘Aloha Hot Orange.’

Q: The last two years I have had a terrible time keeping my petunias alive. I have tried several varieties, including regular old petunias and the ‘Wave’ varieties. No matter what I do, they end up with little black and white bugs and eventually die. I do a weekly spraying that helps but does not save them from an untimely demise. I would love to use petunias because they are affordable, beautiful and easy, but if that is not possible, can you recommend some different ideas for my deck railing boxes and beds (full sun)?

A: Most bugs are species-specific, so if you’re having trouble with one type of flower, it makes sense to switch rather than fight. You shouldn’t have to spray your flowers all the time to keep them alive.

In your deck boxes, try calibrachoa, which are sometimes called “million bells.” These look a lot like petunias but may be different enough to a bug’s taste that they let them alone. They seem to do much better in pots than in the ground, where they’re prone to root-rotting.

Another good choice would be verbena, a low, trailing annual that comes in a variety of colors. You can buy inexpensive varieties grown in 6-packs from seed, but I’ve found the ones that are grown from cuttings perform far better. These are usually sold individually in 4-inch pots. Look for varieties such as ‘Aztec,’ ‘Lanai,’ ‘Temari,’ ‘Fuego,’ ‘Magalena’ and ‘Tukana.’

The most bullet-proof choice for deck box or ground is the ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias. You’ll pay more for these, but just one can grow 2 feet tall and wide by mid-summer. I’ve never seen a bug bug this one. The leaves are glossy with red stems and undersides, and the hanging flowers come in pink or red.

And for good measure, take a look at the new SunPatiens. These are sun-tolerant impatiens that bloom heavily and come in at least seven different colors.

Budworm–Bad Bug

Martie Young
Adams County Master Gardener

Budworms may not rival the man-eating plant in the play “Little Shop of Horrors”; but if you grow certain annuals, you may find them just as terribly destructive. If you like growing geraniums, petunias, snapdragons, penstemon, angelonia, nicotiana and many others, you are growing flowers that budworms love to eat. The budworm is a real threat to tobacco crops, too; fortunately for tobacco farmers they have more potent pesticides and better training in using them than the ordinary gardener.

I discovered these worms (also known as the geranium/petunia budworm) last summer in my petunias. I had planted Tidal Wave Silver petunias that had nicely covered a large gardening space. Unfortunately, I soon noticed holes near the flower bases and upon inspection found the worms inside the flowers. Some researching told me I had budworms. Another hint that budworms are present are small black spots on the leaves and flowers. This is frass (or worm poop).

I tried to keep the budworms in check by spraying and squeezing them. When the worms got ahead of me and made a mess of the petunias, I pulled them out and threw them away. This year I decided to replace the petunias with snapdragons and angelonia and hoped that would put me in the clear. Both now have budworms, possibly coming along with the plants when I purchased them from the greenhouse, an interesting fact I discovered while doing some reading.

Budworms also like geraniums, and they have already appeared on my geranium buds. I must blame myself for this because now I’m learning that bringing geraniums in for the winter without changing the soil first can be to blame. But who knew? I have brought geraniums in for the winter for years and never had problems. (Budworm 2 – Geranium blossom devastated by budworms)

Apparently, the biggest factor in the increase in the budworm population is the warm winter we had last year. The insect spends the winter as a pupa about 2 to 6 inches deep in the soil within a packed earthen cell. Even in a very cold winter, the insect can live in a protected area of the soil such as next to a sun-warmed wall or foundation. If the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees, the insect will most likely live and emerge in the spring as an adult in the moth form. The moth has a wingspan of about 1 1/2 inches; the wings are light colored with brown overtones and a few wavy cream colored bands. You may see it flying up from the grass in the evening. (Budworm 1 – Notice how the budworm’s color mimics the geranium stem)

Eggs are laid singly, during early evening, on geranium buds or on leaves of other plants. The larvae that emerge are tiny worms that immediately begin to eat. At this point you may notice some problems–holes in flower buds, ragged blossoms, or no blossoms. As the worm eats, it gets bigger and more noticeable. An interesting factor here is that the worm may take on the color of the flower it is eating. So a purple angelonia will produce a purple worm, a green undeveloped geranium bud, a green worm, a white snapdragon bloom, a white worm, etc. By the way, you may have to squeeze open the snapdragon blossom to see the worm inside.

If you suspect that you have budworms, look for them in the early evening. Once you see the holes, keep looking and soon you will see the worm itself. Budworms are found all over the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” / US, and they can produce two or more generations a year. Hand-picking should be done in the home garden.

Tobacco budworm is resistant to most garden insecticides. In addition, using them may kill beneficial insects such as wasps, bigeye bug, damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, and spiders. If you use an insecticide, look for one with synthetic pyrethrins also known as pyrethoid insecticides. The insecticide known as Bt may be effective on some plants. However, the insect must eat the Bt in order for it to be effective. If the worms have drilled into the bud, they are not eating the Bt. Keep weeds in check by pulling, since the weeds can also be hosts for the budworm.

Another possible remedy for getting rid of budworms would be to rototill your planting areas. Working the soil in the fall is preferable, but spring tilling may crush some of the budworm pupa.

In the fall remember to throw away the soil from potted plants and replace with new potting mixture if you are over wintering plants. Be mindful that any flowers and buds you put in your compost pile may have budworms that will over winter to continue your problem next year. And hope for a very cold winter!

For more information search for geranium/petunia budworm on the Internet and use information from educational sites such as state universities.

Read other articles about controlling insects & garden pests

Read other articles by Martie Young

Ask a Question forum: Help! Black tiny spots are killing my plants!

they are aphids. If you don’t want to buy an insecticide for just a couple of plants, you can first try just wiping down the plants – both tops and bottoms of the leaves – with a wet paper towel. This will remove/kill most if not all the aphids, and also most of the black spots. You may have to rub the spots a little bit to get them off.
Or spray the whole plant with a fine mist of water from a spray bottle, let it soak for a few minutes and then wipe it off with paper towels.
If they come right back, you might want to try spraying the whole plant – again be sure to get the undersides of the leaves and the stems – with soapy water. Just 1/2 tsp. of dish soap for a quart spray bottle is plenty. Don’t think that if some is good, more is better because soap can be harsh if it’s too concentrated. Do this at least twice within a week, to get any new bugs whose eggs that hatch after the first treatment.
After that, to prevent a re-infestation, take your plants to the shower at least once a month and give them a good “rain bath”. They will thank you for it. Most indoor plants are more or less tropical in nature, so they like the extra humidity.Elaine
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill(1) | Quote | Post #986868 (5)

Double Petunia Flower Stock Photos and Images

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  • Beautiful vibrantly colored red and white striped double Petunia flower.
  • Petunia X hybrida.
  • Purple and white double Petunia Purple Pirouette F1 flower
  • Double Bloom Petunia Flower
  • Double Petunia
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double ‘Pinkmania’ flowers.
  • Double Petunia Tumblina Cherry Ripple
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double ‘Pinkmania’ flowers.
  • Double petunia origami watermelon pink flowers
  • Calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Double PinkMania’ flowers.
  • This stock image is a macro of a petunia flower (disambiguation) of the variety called Double Burgundy Madness.
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double Apricot flowers.
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Calibrachoa caloha ‘Double blue’. Mini Petunia flowers in hanging baskets. UK
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Spectacular vivid pink flower of petunia with white edges to frilly double petals on background of green leaves
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • A close up of a purple petunia flower.
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • garden petunia (Petunia x hybrida, Petunia Double White (Sundaho) ), container with filled white petunia
  • Petunia hybrid with double flowers.
  • Purple and white double Petunia Purple Pirouette F1 flower
  • Terry petunia flower isolated on the white background
  • Double Petunia
  • A macro shot of a double pink petunia bloom.
  • Petunia Tumbelina Priscilla
  • Close up of a Petunia Surfinia Double Red flower
  • Colorful petunia flowers, Grandiflora is the most popular variety of petunia, with large single or double flowers that form mounds of colorful solid,
  • Petunia Tumbelina Ripple
  • Pink Petunia
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double Pink flowers.
  • Petunia Tumbelina Ripple
  • Calibrachoa caloha ‘Double blue’. Mini Petunia flowers in hanging baskets. UK
  • Flower box on a balustrade on green park background.
  • Closeup of a deep red double Calibrachoa flower
  • Flower box on a balustrade on green park background.
  • Petunia
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Variety of flowers, in an old box, ready for planting.
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Purple and white double Petunia Purple Pirouette F1 flower
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Double Petunia
  • Pot of begonias. White background
  • Petunia Tumbelina Priscilla
  • bunch of white flower
  • PETUNIA FRILLS AND SPILLS PRISCILLA.
  • Calibrachoa bud
  • Trailing Petunia ‘Double Pink’
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double Apricot flowers.
  • Petunia Tumbelina Ripple
  • Calibrachoa caloha ‘Double blue’. Mini Petunia flowers in hanging baskets. UK
  • Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Double-Pink-Yellow’
  • Calibrachoa trixi ‘Petticoat’. Mini Petunia flowers in a pot at a flower show. UK
  • Terry petunia flower isolated on the white background
  • Colorful petunia flowers, Grandiflora is the most popular variety of petunia, with large single or double flowers that form mounds of colorful solid,
  • An image showing flower of Double Garden Petunia. This plant is native to tropical America. This is flowering plant. Flowers have funnel shaped, vinta
  • Cone shaped wicker hanging basket with beautiful pink petunia plants.
  • Deep red ampelous mini petunia flowers in turquoise blue pot against wooden wall background. Superbells Calibrachoa Hybrid
  • Purple and white double Petunia Purple Pirouette F1 flower
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Petunia X Hybrida Duo Double Petunia Italy
  • Double petunia on wooden background
  • Little beautiful pink spring petunias with double blossoms
  • Double petunia on white background
  • large red and white double flower of petunia
  • Double petunia in pot on wooden background
  • Trailing Petunia ‘Double Pink’
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double ‘Provence Blue’
  • Close-up of Pink Petunia ‘Frills and Spills’
  • Calibrachoa
  • Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Double-Pink-Yellow’
  • Violet colored petunia, beautiful flower blooming in the garden. High resolution photo. Full depth of field.
  • Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Double-Pink-Yellow’
  • Terry petunia flower isolated on the white background
  • Colorful petunia flowers, Grandiflora is the most popular variety of petunia, with large single or double flowers that form mounds of colorful solid,
  • Terry petunia flower isolated on white background
  • Petunia ‘Summer Pudding’.
  • Terry petunia flower on the old grey wooden table
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • PETUNIA DUO. SOLANACEAE
  • Petunia solonace floral mixed display
  • PETUNIA PRISCILLA ABSTRACT FLOWER PETALS
  • Procumbent Petunias grow in slate rock wall West Virginia, Petunia, flower,
  • purple and white double petunia
  • Double petunia in pot on wooden background
  • Flower Bed with purple petunias, Colourful purple-red petunia flower close up, Petunia flowers bloom, petunia blossom, Petunia flowers in garden.
  • Calibrachoa Can Can Double Dark Lavender flowers.
  • Double petunia in pot isolated on white
  • Calibrachoa
  • Mid-summer flowers, including Lupin, Dianthus, Rugosa rose, Mock orange, Dutch iris, Alpine poppy, French marigold, Beauty bush, Sweet rocket, Lily, Campion, Lady’s mantle, Geranium, Petunia
  • Cool colour pots with pink and mauve
  • Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Double-Pink-Yellow’
  • background of white and vibrant pink petunia
  • double window
  • . Dreer’s Superb Double-fringed Petunia NOVELTIES AND SPECIALTIES IN FLOWER SEEDS, a very interesting lot this season, see page3 53 to 62
  • Petunia ‘Summer Pudding’.
  • Terry petunia flower on the old grey wooden table
  • Double Petunia in full bloom
  • Terry petunia flower isolated on white background

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Petunia Diseases And Pests: Common Problems With Growing Petunias

Whether spilling out of baskets and boxes or filling the fronts of beds with their bright flowers, petunias make every space a little more merry. These tough flowers tolerate a lot of abuse and neglect, though pests and diseases can create problems with growing petunias. Read carefully through the list of common petunia flower issues to learn how to treat petunias ailing from a variety of causes.

Pests of Petunias

There are a number of pests of petunias that can affect these plants. Here are the most common:

Mites – Mites are nearly microscopic pests that suck the juices directly out of petunia cells. These cousins to the spider may cause leaves to curl or cup or flowers to discolor and stiffen. Spider mites also leave thin webs behind where they feed. Spray your petunias with neem oil once a week until all signs of mites are gone.

Caterpillars – Caterpillars chew through foliage and buds, sometimes causing extensive damage in no time. They’re easy to see if you pick through thick foliage. The best solution is to remove them by hand and drown them in a bucket of water daily, but if you can’t bring yourself to do it, sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis applied weekly should knock them out quickly.

Thrips – Thrips can carry viruses to petunias, and may cause leaves to turn papery or flowers to develop white spots, known as “color break.” They can be difficult to see, but look like very tiny, fat ants when running around on your plants. Neem oil or insecticidal soap will knock them out in a few thorough weekly sprays.

Petunia Diseases

Below are common diseases affecting petunia plants:

Root, Stem and Crown Rots – Root, stem, and crown rots commonly affect petunias planted in areas of poor drainage or that are chronically over watered. Leaves wilt despite regular watering and stems may begin to soften. Correcting the drainage and watering less frequently is the only solution if an affected petunia can be saved at all. Often, it’s easier to pull plants and start over early in the season.

Botrytis Blight – Botrytis blight may cause spots or other discoloration on flowers and leaves that eventually sprout brown-grey spores. Again, this disease is favored by wet bedding conditions, so let up on the watering when it appears. Prune out any diseased sections of your plants and pick up fallen debris; drying out the bed should prevent reinfestation.

Powdery Mildew – Powdery mildew doesn’t need soaking wet conditions to thrive, but often appears where plants are spaced too tightly, obstructing airflow. Look for white, powdery spots of spores that spread or cover leaves and flowers completely. Powdery mildew can be treated with neem oil, but you should also correct the conditions allowing this disease to get a foothold.

Verticillium Wilt – Verticillium wilt causes an overall decline in plant vigor, often causing older leaves to wilt before younger ones, or only part of a plant to die at first. There is no cure for verticillium wilt, so pull your plants and try again in pots. In some areas, the soil can be heated enough through soil solarization to kill the fungal pathogen.

Viruses – Several viruses affect petunias, causing leaves to develop yellow spots, mosaics, halos or bullseyes. Unfortunately, petunia viruses cannot be cured. If you suspect virus in your plants, use extra caution when pruning or working with the plants to slow the spread of disease. Many plant viruses are vectored by small insects, check your plants carefully and treat any you find if you hope to save the non-symptomatic plants in your beds.

What bug or animal is eating the buds and flowers off my petunias? What will…

Petunias attract a few mite species, but the cyclamen mites (Stenotarsonemus pallidus) often cause the worst damage. One of the smallest mites to attack ornamental plants, these tiny arachnids hide in moist, shady plant areas, such as in unopened leaves or flower buds. Cyclamen mite saliva contains a substance toxic to petunias, causing stunted, twisted and distorted foliage at feeding sites. Plants often suffer from premature flower or bud death. These mites are hard to treat with pesticides since they live within plant areas where the chemicals can’t reach. The experts at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension recommend getting rid of mites by dipping petunia plants in a warm water bath. Make sure the water temperature is right at 111 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the plant submerged for only 15 minutes.
The tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens), also called the geranium budworm, commonly affects petunia plants. The small, green caterpillars usually show up in the summer, but you probably won’t spot the pests themselves. You’ll likely just see their droppings, which look like little black seeds. Budworms feed on flower buds, petals and surrounding foliage, chewing small holes in the plant tissue. Injured buds usually don’t open, and those that do look all chewed up and raggedy. Budworm pupae overwinter in warm-climate soils and have developed resistance to most insecticides licensed for residential use. Control budworm populations by handpicking the pests off your petunias. Horticulturists at the Colorado State University Extension suggest searching for the budworms around dusk since these light-shy pests typically hide during the day.Tobacco budworm is sometimes controlled by use of bacterial insecticides such as Bifenthrin or Bacillus thuringiensis.
I hope this was helpful. Good luck in scouting for your villain. Please feel free to contact us again if you have further questions.

What’s Eating Your Petunias?

Originally posted July 2012
Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel at Seven Falls in Manitou Springs, Colorado Photo by Cindy Pierce June 2012

The above photo is by far one of my favorites of all time. I took it a few weeks ago while vacationing in Colorado. My boyfriend and I broke away from the rest of the extended family and took my mom on a special day of local excursions in the southern area of Colorado. Along with the famous Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, we also visited Seven Falls – a beautiful canyon area in Manitou Springs that boasts a tall, seven-level waterfall. There are several ways you can view the seven-level waterfall – from the ground, from a viewing platform a few stories high, and from the top of the canyon via a steep and lengthy, zig-zag staircase. You can also view the falls at night when they are lighted with many colors.

While my boyfriend and I took the quick elevator ride up to the mid-level viewing platform, my mom decided to hang out at the base. Along the creek and pathways of the park hung large double hanging baskets of beautiful, healthy red, white and purple petunias. My mom appeared to be intently admiring these flower baskets as my boyfriend and I tried to get her attention from the viewing platform for a photo op. No luck.

When we arrived back down at base, my mom began laughing and telling us how a ground squirrel was sprawled in the middle of one of the petunia baskets, eating away at the flowers. I thought it must’ve been a funny sight and wondered just how the petunias stayed so abundant with the number of ground squirrels around. As my boyfriend decided to take the trek up to the top of the falls, my mom and I sat on a park bench, watched the Native American dancers and simply took in the scenery. We watched the rainbow trout swim in the nearby pond and the chipmunks and ground squirrels dart around and scoop up crumbs of dropped tourist food. Suddenly, I saw a rather large ground squirrel appear in the center of one of the petunia baskets right next to us. Camera in hand, I snapped several photos as the critter rapidly tore off petunia blooms one at a time and stuffed them in its mouth. She was absolutely adorable (if you look closely at the photo, “she” appears to have nursing babies).

I’m sure the maintenance crews at Seven Falls probably don’t find the squirrels quite as adorable as we did. I’m sure they are tasked with replacing the flowers in the baskets quite often. But, then again, perhaps the squirrels provide a natural deadheading and trimming service, enabling the plant to regenerate? *More on this later . . .

Witnessing how rapid this one little squirrel devoured multiple blooms, it reminded me of how quickly a newly planted bed of petunias can disappear from our yards at home. From my research, it appears that white tail deer, rabbits, and all types of rodents (including squirrels) enjoy the taste of petunias. The vibrantly colored blooms are like neon signs beckoning these mammals to come over and partake of them.

In addition to animals, insects seem to very much enjoy petunias as well, especially worms and most especially, the tobacco hornworm. Petunias are of the Solanaceae family, commonly known as the nightshade family. The nightshade family is a large family of flowering plants; their flowers being tubular or semi-tubular, with some flower varieties having fused petals. If you look closely at a petunia’s bloom, you will see the margins of its fused petals.

The nightshade family consists of both very popular edible plants and in contrast, very toxic plants – some fatally toxic, such as belladonna. Among the important agricultural plants of the nightshade family are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes. I find it quite ironic that some of the most common vegetables we eat, perhaps on a daily basis (think tomatoes on hamburgers, in salsa, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, etc.) are found in the same classification as deadly belladonna.

However, speaking of the toxicity of nightshades, some of the plants in this family are toxic in high doses but are helpful and/or useful in smaller doses. For example, extracts of some of the plants of this family are used to curb the nausea of motion sickness and in chemotherapy patients. Also, the capsaicin extract of peppers is used in pepper spray – a personal safety device that sprays and temporarily stuns people and other mammals. Another interesting plant of the nightshade family is nicotiana or tobacco. I suppose the effect nicotine has on the body can certainly be described as drug-like or addictive when we consider the many different effects the varied nightshade plants have on the body. It has been determined it is the alkaloid compounds of nightshades that give the plant its helpful and/or harmful attributes.

Although there is no consensus among researchers, it is thought best for people suffering from nerve, muscle and/or joint conditions to limit or avoid food of the nightshade family due to the inflammatory effects alkaloids may have on these body functions. It is good to note here also, that if you have heard the old wives’ tale to avoid eating green potatoes, you may wish to take heed. While it is the chlorophyll in the potato that actually makes it green, the color also corresponds with a higher presence of alkaloids. Same with green tomatoes. If you have a form of arthritis, as do I, but absolutely love one or more of the nightshade veggies, it is good to note that cooking them reduces the amount of alkaloids by about 40 – 50%. So, cooked tomatoes are less “toxic” than those just out of the garden. I admit I still eat tomatoes in both manners, but I just don’t overdo it either way. As you know, there are very good compounds found in tomatoes too – such as Vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene.

Well, back to petunias and what eats them. You may be able to guess that petunias fall into a benign branch of the nightshade family that is safe for mammals to eat versus one of the highly poisonous or deadly branches. While petunias do possess alkaloids like the rest of the nightshades, it does not possess the highly toxic form. And because the vibrant, sweet-tasting blooms of petunias are borne without thorns or thistles, critters find them irresistible and easy to eat. In addition to mammals devouring your petunias, as I mentioned earlier, some worms are especially attracted to nightshades as well. The tobacco hornworm (a very large, bright green worm) that you can guess – loves the nightshade plant, tobacco – really isn’t all that discerning when tobacco isn’t around. This worm will attack any nightshade plant, including your tomato, pepper and potato plants. Of course, it likes petunias as well!

Tobacco Hornworm courtesy of http://coopext.colostate.edu/4dmg/Pests/tomato.htm

An interesting side note is Morning Glory and Moonflower Vine were once considered a part of the nightshade family in the past, but their family has been changed, of late, to Convolvulaceae. If you go one classification step up, however, they remain in the same Order as nightshades and have some of the same flower and alkaloid characteristics. The reason I bring this up is because their flowers are very similar to Petunias in shape and size and you’ll see the tobacco hornworm likes feasting on the leaves of these vines as well. In addition, if you have both moonflowers and petunias in your landscape, the large, hummingbird-sized parent moths of these worms (Sphinx Moths) will visit both flowers equally!

So, just what can you do to keep your petunias full and healthy, or at least alive, this season? With regard to mammals like the cute little critter in the photo at the top of my blog post, ironically, the use of another nightshade plant may be the best solution!

Spraying diluted hot pepper juice or sprinkling hot pepper flakes around your ornamentals and vegetables may help dissuade these critters’ palates. I would administer the pepper spray in the late evening hours so the sun does not intensify the solution, however. About the tobacco hornworm? The pepper juice spray might help, but then again sometimes the hornworm actually eats green peppers so simply removing the gargantuan worms by hand (ugh) may be the best way to control them. While I don’t like to handle insects by hand, I still find them fascinating and would never purposely kill them (yellow jackets are an exception, btw!).

Personally, I love the mature moths that the hornworms develop into and simply find the larvae don’t do that much damage to my ornamentals and therefore I do not do anything to specifically deter them from my yard. I often see their droppings but resign myself to knowing I’ll have more moths to admire in late summer/early fall. (Yes, these worms are big enough to have droppings to see and in fact, this is one way to locate them on your plants. For as big as they are – they are incredibly hard to see as they excellently blend with the greenery.) If you have kiddos or are a curious adult, click http://www.birds-n-garden.com/white-lined_sphinx_hummingbird_moths.html to see how to raise the tobacco hornworms you pick off your plants and transform them into gorgeous, iridescent, hummingbird-sized Sphinx Moths.

*Keep in mind, if your efforts to reduce damage to your petunias by animals or insects are less than successful, do not fret if you still have roots and stems intact. Oftentimes, with a little pampering, you may be able to bring forth a stronger plant as petunias are known to bounce back more fully when trimmed and deadheaded.

Taking into consideration:

– overindulging in edible nightshades may aggravate illness, but eliminating them entirely will cause you to miss out on vitamins and antioxidants;

– overindulgence of some compounds of nightshades may kill you, while small quantities may indeed heal you; and,

– aggressively ridding every pest from your nightshades may burn them (pepper juice) or cause leggy overgrowth, allowing a few pests to “trim” the plants may actually promote regeneration;

I’d like to end this post today by saying I believe we can view the contrasting properties of the fascinating plants of the nightshade family as a perfect justification of the age-old adage, Moderation in All Things . . .

Until next time,

Cindy

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