Although I'm a big fan of insects in my garden, eager to find interesting or "new" bugs whenever I can, I'm not always fond of what they can do to plants.

Even when I'm faced with the damage they can inflict, I'm still fascinated and have so many questions.


I'll start with the obvious ones, and I'll ask them directly.

Little bugs who share my garden, how exactly do you do what's shown in these first two photos? How do you eat away an almost perfect circle from the edge of a leaf? It seems like you'd have to do the classic cartoon cutting a hole in the floor trick, where you cut around yourself and end up falling through. I've tried envisioning the placement of your body, and it just doesn't make sense. How do you do it?

(Thankfully Google came to the rescue, and "what cuts circles in plant leaves" led me to the answer: leafcutter bees!)

So bugs, I'm a little relieved to know that you're not eating perfect bullet hole circles in the leaves of my plants. Why exactly are you leaving shotgun blast damage instead?

Why do you find certain plants to be tasty, and others to be not worth eating? I can see why you might like some thick, juicy hosta leaves:

Or some yummy sweet potato vine. That makes some sense:

But castor bean leaves? Aren't all parts of the castor bean plant poisonous? They are to humans and other mammals, but maybe you're immune to their noxious compounds. Or perhaps you store those poisons inside your body, rendering you inedible -- I know some of you guys do that.

So I know a little about you, but not everything.

For instance, I'm not sure why you make the choices you do. Why would you start eating right in the center of a leaf, instead of from the edge like a normal person - er - bug?

Perhaps you just needed to escape from the darkness...

... Or just wanted to see the clouds and sky and let in a little bit of light:

And why do you feel the need to take a few bites out of seemingly every single leaf?

Are you like our young cat Tagg, who gets so excited about feeding time that he runs back and forth from his own bowl to the bowls of the other cats, not able to make up his mind about where to eat?

Luckily this specific plant (bamboo) has plenty of leaves left so no harm done, but I suspect that you, grasshopper, have a bit of damage left to do before the summer is over.

It's a rare case when I know who's causing the damage, as there are no signs of the diners when I look. That's probably in part because the house wrens are keeping busy, probing under every leaf for juicy morsels. They are so intent they were even chattering away at me while I was taking these photos in the veggie beds:

Trust me little birds, you can have all of the little caterpillars and slugs that you want -- I don't want them! Both I and my kale thank you:

Hey bugs, it looks like you actually left me a few bites here -- are you getting lazy?

Although I might normally be disheartened at the amount of damage on some of these plants, I'm not. I guess it's because there are so many other plants and leaves that haven't been touched by chitinous mouth parts.

I understand that I've got an ecosystem here, and I'm willing to make some sacrifices to support it.

Plus it makes me smile when I see that some weeds are getting the same attention from you nibblers.


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Janet  – (August 12, 2011 at 10:45 AM)  

Very interesting photo (and holes). On the subject of leafcutter bees have you seen the post by Janet at "Plantaliscious" about her discovery of leaf cutter bee parcels. It's worth a look.

Alan  – (August 12, 2011 at 2:14 PM)  

Thanks Janet! I visited Plantalicious and saw the post you referred to, and I realize that I found one of those parcels last fall too! Just a single packet though, not a whole bunch of them like Janet did.

Lisa  – (August 13, 2011 at 8:24 AM)  

My husband just asked yesterday "what are all the holes in the hosta?" He looked dubious when I said "bugs!" After all, they have to eat, too! I'm not sure what he thought it might be... Aliens? Although some of the bugs in the garden do look like they could be from another planet!

Christine  – (August 14, 2011 at 12:09 PM)  

Lovely post! I don't like seeing the holes in my plants, but even the little creatures need to eat, so I'm accepting!

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