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Who's eating my onion leaves?

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Who's eating my onion leaves?

Post  SFG in Chicago on 5/26/2010, 6:45 pm

SoI was out admiring my little garden this morning when I noticed one of my onion leaves that was bent over (many of them are bent from wind/growing so tall). This one had a hole and I could see something dark inside the hollow leaf. So I cut off that leaf and cut it open to find this guy. Sorry, the pic is a bit blurry. It is definitely some sort of caterpillar. It fits the photos I'm finding online of cutworms, but not the descriptions I'm finding of cutworm behavior. Looking closer I found 1 more leaf with a hole in it, cut the entire leaf off and found another caterpillar and down at the bottom of the leaf what looked like dozens of eggs. The plants were not cut off at the bottom like I'm reading cutworms would do and the little beasties were definitely inside the hollow leaves, eating them. Has anyone else seen anything like this? I definitely will be on patrol for more of them, but so far seems like the damage is minimal.
Thanks!
Virginia

SFG in Chicago

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Re: Who's eating my onion leaves?

Post  martha on 5/26/2010, 9:40 pm

that is strange. It sure looks to me like a caterpillar. I can't find any thing on line that seems to match up - there is a larval stage of some pest or other, but they would be eating the bulb, not living in the green part.
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martha

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Re: Who's eating my onion leaves?

Post  SFG in Chicago on 5/26/2010, 11:01 pm

Weird, isn't it? It was definitely a caterpillar, but so are cutworms. It was definitely inside the leaf, about halfway up eating it. It's not in my picture, but there were holes where I found him, as well as some little caterpillar poo. My initial round of googling didn't turn up anything but in further reading tonight about cutworms I've found some articles that say the young larvae do feed on the foliage and then as they get older they migrate down to the soil level. So I am now leaning towards these being cutworms after all. I hope I don't find any more but I will keep a watchful eye. I've already won a battle with cabbage loopers on my lettuce because I caught them early. Hopefully this will be the case this time too.

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