What is Eating my Dahlia Leaves?

What is Eating my Dahlia Leaves?

Every living organism that walks, slithers, swims, or flys, has a weakness, and most of them are in seeking beauty or being near beautiful things. And what looks more beautiful more than the dahlia flowering plant. The dahlia plant blooms in various colors and it is mainly planted because of the beauty it unleashes when blended in a garden among other plants. 

With all the amazing facts that will be discussed in this article Dahlia plants are unique. Their reproduction comes against a stiff competition from many interdependent species. Hence, in this article, we will also put a closer look at who or what is eating your dahlia leaves. 

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What is Dahlia? 

Dahlia is a simple unique flowering plant that has simple leaves and colorful flower petals. The flowers bloom in various colors including white, yellow, red, or purple colors. However, dahlia grows as a wildflower or can be planted as a garden flower. Regardless, the two only differ in the shapes of their petals. The wild dahlia plant has both disk and ray flowers at the flowering heads whereas, the garden dahlia has shortened ray flowers. 

Dahlia grows suitably in most of garden soils. It starts to blossom late in the summer and live long until the frost in the autumn season begins. Nonetheless, dahlias are classified as perennial plants. That is, they may grow annually or perennial depending on whether the climatic conditions favor their upswing. Dahlias are also known to grow tall and have gigantic blooms as the plant comes in all shapes and sizes.

What is Eating My Dahlia Leaves? 

As explained, earlier, dahlia plants are exploited by many different pests and insects. Whenever dahlia blooms, there’s huge competition from the predators. This constitutes snails and slugs which are the two main leaders in the food chain when it comes to eating dahlia leaves. The other two are caterpillars and thrips who are not left out in the dahlia food chain. 

Snails and slugs are not the perfect predators when it comes to feeding in something. This is because they both leave a slimy trail behind. It is the fastest way to track them and their whereabouts on your dahlia. Therefore, if your dahlia leaves are missing, you already know who are your first culprits for the damage in terms of hiding their trails. However, snails have one advantage when you are planning to capture them. They only come out at night. 

Here is how you can easily get rid of snails and slugs that are tampering with your dahlia leaves. 

  • You can either stick around the garden at night or wake up early in the morning. You will find snails and slugs busy feasting into your dahlia plants. Therefore, you can handpick them and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. 
  • Another method is to try and trap them when they come out at night. Trapping can be enhanced by placing a bowl of Ale near the dahlia plants. They will enter the bowl instead of getting to your plants. The following day, you will come and pick the bowl and throw them into a bucket of soapy water. 
  • Also, you may opt to place a copper ring around the gullible dahlia plants. Neither the snails nor slugs can climb over, hence, discouraging their infestation on the dahlia. 
  • Snails and slugs have an expensive habit and the other way you can get rid of them is by covering your dahlias with two inches of rough mulch. Rough mulch will prove difficult to climb on as they will be injured in the process. The mulch may contain many things which may include crushed eggshells and wood ashes. 
  • The last but not least option of getting rid of what’s eating your dahlias is by keeping the ground below plants as clean as possible. Such tidiness in the garden will discourage the snails and slugs as they come out of their hiding places. Afterward, it will prove difficult for them to track back into the fields as they will seek more hostile habitats somewhere else. 

After all the hard work in keeping them out, the question remains, can dahlia recover from the infestation of snails and slugs? Yes. Dahlia can recover from the leaf’s damage as long as some leaves are left behind. Therefore, you need to get rid of snails and slugs once you notice their presence on your farm. 

Other culprits that feed on dahlia leaves are caterpillars. Their feeding culture is inevitable as they feed in rows onto the dahlia leaves. Caterpillars feed on the outside of the leaf as they move to the center. They later hide in the curled leaves of the dahlia plant. Hence, if you see curled leaves, make sure to look out for caterpillars in your garden. The best way to stop them from infesting your dahlia is as below. 

  • Like the snails and slugs, the best way to also get rid of caterpillars is by handpicking either at night or early in the morning. It is the most effective method, however, it has to be practiced in the beginning stages of infestation before it gets to the worst. 
  • You may also opt to use bacteria that discourages the presence of caterpillars. This is the Bacillus thuringiensis. Once applied to the dahlia plant, there’s is not a chance you will find caterpillars in there. 

Thrips, yet another dangerous insect to be around dahlia plants. It is lethal as its impact is well seen on dahlia plants. Thrips are tiny, slender, and black-colored. They feed on the dahlia plant’s sap, however they damage the plant leaves in the process. The boreholes in the plant leaves which will later fall of. This results in stunted growth of the plant which in turn hinders the plant’s reproduction. 

Thrips move from one plant to another very quickly; therefore, it is hard to get rid of them using insecticides. A better way to get rid of thrips is by spraying water forcefully on the affected dahlias. This is done three times a day on alternate days, however, consistency must be adhered to. The other option of getting thrips out of your garden is to spray the dahlia plant with insecticidal soap on the affected plants to eliminate them. 

FAQs About dahlia leave eaters

  1. What is eating off my dahlia leaves? 

The four main contenders in the feeding of dahlia leaves are snails, slugs, thrips, and, caterpillars. Either of these can be found infesting on your dahlia leaves. They are all brutal to the dahlia plant, therefore, once their existence is noted, they should be taken care of before it’s too late. At an early stage, they are easy to control and curb their infections to other dahlias. 

  1. What’s wrong with my dahlia leaves? 

What might be happening on your dahlia leaves is a manifestation of pests and insects. This may be due to the frequent number of leaves on the ground every morning. Also, it might be the reason why your dahlia plants have a slimy trail all around. Moreover, such things are red flags to alert you to the presence of new aliens in your garden.

Insects that may be leaving such trails may include snails or slugs and also caterpillars or thrips. Excessive feeding on the plant leaves will reduce the growth rate and also offer stunted growth of the flower. 

  1. How do I keep insects away from my dahlia?

Insect control on the dahlia is quite simple than expected. You do not necessarily need the most expensive insecticides, neither do you need the application of excessive techniques. Insects that attack the dahlia have a common feature of hiding and sticking around the plant even after attacking. Hence, it is easy to identify them and get rid of them. Also, the majority only come to attack the plants at night. Moreover, every insect that attacks the dahlia has a specific pattern of infestation. Hence, it will ease the gardener’s work to identify it and the mechanism to use to get rid of it. 

  1. Do ants feed on dahlia leaves? 

No, ants do not feed on dahlia leaves or any part of the dahlia plant. 

  1. Do birds feed on dahlia leaves? 

No, birds do not feed on dahlia. However, some birds aid in controlling the infestation of caterpillars on plants especially the dahlia plants. 

  1. Can I cut dahlia leaves? 

Yes, but only when pruning. Regardless, the process is done systematically as you don’t want to interfere much with the plant growth. Once the plant is 41cm and is blooming, it will develop four sets of leaves. Cutting the top of the plant above the set of leaves will encourage branching. Branching will boost more blooming during the season or late in the season. 

Final Verdict 

For a gardener to understand what might be happening to his or her dahlias, they need to understand the various insects that affect the plant and what they do. Also, the method used to push them out of your garden. Keep your garden safe from harmful pests and insects for better dahlia growth.