What Eats Dahlia Leaves? 12 Leaf Eaters Of Your Dahlia

Many things can eat dahlia leaves, but some of the most common are insects and small mammals. Insects like leaf-eating caterpillars and aphids consume dahlia leaves as part of their diet, while birds and small mammals like rabbits and groundhogs eat them for their specific nutrients. Get to know more about the 12-leaf eaters of your dahlia. Read on!

Animals that Eat Dahlia Leaves

Deer

Deer will eat dahlias because they are opportunistic feeders and don’t make a distinction between what they eat and what they don’t. Dahlias are a great source of carbohydrates, minerals, and moisture for deer, and if they are properly cared for, they can provide all three.

Way to Control:

Dahlias can grow to a height of 1-4 feet and are visually appealing to deer, making them an easy prey item. Look for deer signs like shredded leaves and blooms, and keep an eye out day and night.

Habitat management is usually the most effective method of dealing with deer in the long run. A 6-foot-tall perimeter fence is usually sufficient, but it isn’t always practical or possible to use this method. Bubble wrap, stinky shoes, and human hair are all popular deer deterrents. A tarp or hard container can also be used to protect your plants at night, but the results will have to be weighed against your commitment and sanity.

Groundhogs

These furry creatures consume dahlia leaves as part of their diet. They have sharp incisors that easily slice through the tough outer layer of the leaf. Birds

Many different birds consume dahlia leaves, including flickers and woodpeckers. They find the brightly colored leaves a tasty addition to their diet and enjoy crunching them between their sharp teeth.

Way to Control:

The removal of groundhogs from the garden can be a challenging task. It might be helpful to use repellents like sprays or granular material. You can try to ward them off by spreading bloodmeal, a fertilizer made from dried blood, but the smell will be removed if it rains or if you water the area. Removing a groundhog from the garden by a trained professional specializing in wildlife trapping is, however, the most effective method of getting rid of a groundhog there.

You might be able to catch groundhogs on your own, but first, you should look into whether or not there are any restrictions in your region. Because groundhogs are regarded as nuisance animals, some states and townships make it illegal to catch and release them.

Rabbits

Rabbits are probably to blame for broken stems and chew marks between 2 inches and 1 foot above the ground. Look for clean 45-degree cuts in the stems of your dahlias and 1/4-inch pellets nearby. Most of the time, you’ll know if you have a rabbit problem.

Way to Control:

Rabbits usually graze near an escape cover, so keep your yard clear of clutter and close off sheds, garages, and porches where they could get in. If rabbits are doing a lot of damage, think about putting up a mesh fence. Remember that rabbit-proof fences need to be partially buried and at least 18 inches tall to work. You might also be able to scare them away with strong smells like garlic, ammonia, and cayenne pepper.

Cut down on the junk and mess in your yard so rabbits won’t have as many places to hide. Let dogs and cats run free to get rabbits to go somewhere else to eat. To keep them out, put up a sub-grade mesh fence.

Insects that Eat Dahlia Leaves

The most appealing feature of dahlias is their vibrant flowers. Even so, many pests love their leaves and can completely strip a plant bare in a single night. Here are some potential offenders if your dahlia leaves have holes all over them and have been eating:

Aphids

If your dahlias have yellow, wrinkly leaves and a sticky black substance, it could be because aphids have moved in. These small insects can be of different colors, but they are mostly green and shaped like pears. Their legs and antennae are long. 

Way to Control:

Most of the time, natural ways of getting rid of aphids work better than pesticides, and pesticides often do more harm than good by killing beneficial insects. You can try spraying the undersides of leaves, where aphids tend to gather, with a strong stream of water or coating the leaves with horticultural oil. Bringing in insects that eat them, like ladybugs and lacewings, can help keep the population down. You can also plant dahlias with other plants. Aphids can also be scared away by garlic, chives, nasturtium, and catnip.

Keeping a close eye on the dahlia garden is the best way to keep aphids from becoming a big problem. Eliminating a problem means finding it as soon as possible.

Capsid Bugs

Dahlia leaves are distorted by capsid bugs, which adore puncturing holes. Capricorn bugs are bright green and look like small beetles. These plants die, which causes the flower buds to abort. Dahlia sap is a food source for capsid bugs. Toxins are injected into the plant as it feeds. As soon as you spot Capsid bugs ruining the beauty of Dahlias, respond immediately.

Way to Control:

Remove any leaves that may be clogging up your Dahlias. If the infestation is severe, use an insecticide based on pyrethrin on the Dahlia plants.

Slugs and Snails

The primary pests that consume dahlia leaves are snails, and they can do a great deal of harm to these plants, especially when the foliage is delicate and soft. They leave a slimy mucus trail in their wake and chew large holes in leaves, making them easy to spot.

Dahlias are a favorite food of snails and slugs, and when they have been feasting in your flower bed, you can tell because they leave a trail of telltale slime behind them.

If the plant leaves have been eaten away and slime trails are visible, the problem is likely caused by slugs and/or snails.

Put a layer of rough mulch measuring about two inches (five centimeters) thick around the dahlias to stop these slimy, crawling pests from coming back. You can prevent snails and slugs from returning to your dahlias by surrounding them with a barrier of roughly crushed eggshells, tree bark, nut hulls, or wood ashes from a fireplace. In addition to assisting the soil in retaining water, the organic mulch, as it decomposes, will provide the soil with nutrients.

Caterpillars

Dahlia leaves are a favorite food of caterpillars, and their chewing patterns are visible. Caterpillars frequently chew leaves from the outside edge to the center, creating “stripes,” as opposed to snails who make holes in the leaves.

Additionally, as they eat the leaves, they roll up in them to conceal their feasting. As a result, curled and rolled dahlia leaves are a surefire sign that caterpillars are munching on them.

In their larval stages, the caterpillars of moths and butterflies can cause significant harm to the dahlia garden. Three pairs of legs surround the thorax of a larva. Damaged leaves that young caterpillars have punctured often look like they have been torn apart. In addition to caterpillar habitats, webs of rolled leaves are another telltale sign.

Way to Control:

As soon as the dahlia seedlings, stems and buds are infested by caterpillars, and they’re gone! Keep an eye on them constantly and use hand picking, but you can also use microbial insecticides and predators to control them. It is possible to discourage them from settling in by using reflective mulch, which they find disorienting. 

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers sometimes eat the leaves of dahlias, but they are not a big problem. Using nosema locustae to get rid of these pests is a safe way.

Way to Control:

Nosema locustae is a naturally occurring microbe that makes grasshoppers and crickets sick and kills them almost immediately.

The organic nosema locustae are sprayed onto grasshopper bait, then placed around plants.

Thrips

Small black greenhouse thrips, also known as Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis, are responsible for the destruction of dahlias. These thrips cause the plant’s flowers to become misshapen and discolored, and they mar the plant’s leaves with whitish scars and black waste. The pest can also stunt the growth of the dahlia.

Way to Control:

If you keep the areas around the dahlias clear of weeds and ensure the dahlias are healthy by cultivating them in conditions optimal for their growth, you can help control a thrip infestation. Because of the pests’ mobility, it can be difficult to keep them under control. However, in a severe infestation, you can use a less hazardous product, such as insecticidal soap, neem oil, or products containing pyrethrins. Always make sure to use them per the product’s directions.

Earwigs

These insects are typically active at night and eat holes in dahlia leaves, but they are not harmful in large numbers. They might also be helpful if you have aphids because they prey on them and control their population.

Often, earwig damage can be seen in torn-up flowers and chewed-up older leaves. Earwigs are easy to spot because they are big and have back legs that look like forceps. They are not usually dangerous to life, though; they do a good job of controlling aphid and mite populations. So, their management should keep them in check reasonably, without going too far.

Habitat management is the key to getting rid of earwigs. Since they like to hide in damp, dark places, keeping dahlia beds clear of rocks, yard art, dense groundcover, and other trash is a good idea. You can also set traps for earwigs by putting wet newspaper in empty toilet paper rolls. This will get them away from your flowers and plants. Chickens and toads eat earwigs, so they should be free to roam in the dahlia garden when possible.

Leafhoppers

Frequently mistaken for aphids, leafhoppers move more quickly and leap laterally. They can be bright green or camouflage, and their antennae and wings have red tips. If leafhoppers feed on pale, stippled leaves, the leaves may curl or fall off. They may also leave behind black spots.

Due to their speed, leafhoppers are difficult to control. Although they occasionally harbor disease, most pose a low risk to plant health. However, they can cause unsightly damage, so their presence should be discouraged.

Ways to Control:

Remove faded flowers and foliage from beds as soon as possible to eliminate shelter areas, and remove all plant tops at the end of the season to prevent overwintering. Applying narrow-spectrum oil to the undersides of leaves can also reduce leafhopper populations.

Spider mites

Spider mites are tiny, fast-moving, pale-colored bugs. This creature has red eyes and six or eight legs, depending on age. Mites are commonly found in plants with yellow leaves that curl up and have a web-like appearance.

Ways to Control:

Dahlia mites usually start at the bottom and work to the top, so removing the lowest leaves will help prevent an upward spread. In addition, the undersides of plants can be treated with horticultural oil or soap. To stop the spread of mites, it is best to get rid of any infested plants. Keep your dahlias well watered, especially during times of drought, as mites are attracted to dry, stressed foliage.

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