Over the weekend, I was watching the squirrels in my backyard. Some folks call them “ground rats” or “tree rats” but I enjoy them. There were four of them and it seemed like they were playing tag but I’m sure they were involved in a serious skirmish over territory.
As I moved from one window to another, I glanced down and saw a chipmunk–another “love ’em or hate ’em” critter, I know. But then I also saw this.
It’s not a great photo because it’s hard to take a photo of a leaf that’s been eaten down to nubby little nothings. So of course I came into the computer and started looking for things like “astilbe leaf skeletonizer” or even “astilbe pests” and guess what?
There are none! According to the incredibly diverse internet, “astibles are remarkably pest and disease resistant.” They may get spider mites or Fusarium rot, but that’s about it. And neither of those cause what I’m showing in the above photo.
So I’m a bit stumped. I’m guessing earwigs. Slugs don’t usually do something like this–they just take random diverse chomps out of leaves and move on. For that matter, so do earwigs, but it’s been so ridiculously wet, who knows? In my yard, I’m averaging 3″ of rain a week.
There are various types of skeletonizing leaf beetles–some 27 pages worth on the online site BugGuide–but none seem to affect astilbe. These beetles are very host specific–they might jump to a cultivar but they will not jump to a different species. I did not find one for astilbes.
So I’m sticking with the earwigs taking advantage of the mouldering conditions–or to quote Woody Allen, I’m getting so mellow, I’m ripening and rotting. And certainly, so is the garden!