A final type of damage

The last two days I've covered storm damage to some of my plants, heat damage to others, and now continuing the theme that I inadvertently started, another type of damage. Any guesses what it is? The storm and heat damage is pretty climate-specific, but this one all gardeners can relate to, regardless of climate.

Yep, it's insect damage. In this case, on one of my potted bamboos. Normally I wouldn't care about a little insect snacking, but this is a plant that I walk by every time I go into the yard, and I want it looking its best.


So what type of insect is doing this, and can I find it and remove it? The list of critters that eat leaves isn't too long, especially if they're leaving huge holes like this. My first though is "caterpillar". That's a good first guess, as caterpillars are probably the most common leaf eater. I'll give you a little more information:

The damage is all over this plant, from the lowest leaf to the uppermost reaches of the plant, which is about 7' tall. Caterpillar damage is more concentrated in one area, as caterpillars don't move that much. I think the culprit in this case is this guy:

A grasshopper. I'm not sure if it's this species, or another. The grasshoppers in my yard are quite shy -- they'll hide as soon as I get close to the plant. So I'm having trouble finding the one eating the bamboo leaves.

I took these photos last summer from inside the house when the hopper climbed onto the window. Normally I'd never be able to get this close to one before it jumped off.

So I haven't seen this plant's muncher yet, but I know he's hiding in there somewhere. Know what else is hiding in that plant?

I don't think this mantis is large enough to tackle a huge, powerful grasshopper like the one pictured above, but if it's a smaller species, the mantis has a chance. Go mantis!

A couple of feet away I noticed more damage on a different plant:

Notice that the damage looks different than the bamboo damage.

It's more concentrated in a small area, although it is in a couple of different places on the plant. There's also this clue:

This one is easy: it's definitely caterpillars. Those are their droppings, and they make it easy to locate the areas of freshest damage. Looking under the leaf above these droppings:

Hello there!

After coaxing the little guy onto my finger (which took some doing), I flicked it out into the garden, away from these plants. I didn't kill it. As I said before, I don't mind some munching of my plants, just not the ones I have to look at 10 times a day. Plus, caterpillars turn into butterflies or moths, and I love having those in my garden.

He had a buddy (sibling I guess) a few inches away:

Those were the only two I saw on that plant though. I removed the heavily-damaged leaves because they were unattractive, and to make it easier to see new damage. I'll check back in a couple of days to see if there is any sign of it, but I think these plants are safe for now.

Hopefully I'll be able to catch the bamboo-eating grasshopper soon. When I do I'll relocate it to one of my large ornamental grasses, where it can eat until it bursts as far as I'm concerned. Just stay away from my bamboos!

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