Turns out, while we were busy laying a patio and admiring our zucchini crop, certain nefarious activities were taking place in the garden. I must be a bit slow on the uptake, because I only noticed a day or so ago that many of the large leaves on our exploding Hibiscus (Kopper King) were being eaten into oblivion. Upon closer inspection (and these days, I have to get quite close to see anything that small), I noticed tiny green caterpillars happily chomping away.
The green “caterpillars” are actually the larvae of the Hibiscus Sawfly (Atomacera decepta). The adult female Sawfly very kindly lays eggs on the leaves, viewing them as a great source of food for the next generation. And those larvae sure know how to eat–they pick the leaf clean. How they can eat that much leaf without falling into the void is beyond me, but I am certainly not going to waste any time worrying about them. I also have bigger bugs to battle. Here is a Japanese Beetle on a Rose of Sharon leaf. Clearly, both pests have similar tastes, though in this case I cannot appreciate their discerning palates.
What to do? Battle Tactic #1: Put on the garden gloves and flick the larvae and beetles into a bowl of soapy water. I positioned the bowl under each Hibiscus leaf where larvae were visible, and pushed them straight in. I lost count of how many larvae met their fate this way, but I only came across one Japanese Beetle–on the Hibiscus, not the Rose of Sharon. The two Rose of Sharon plants looked suspiciously pest free early this morning; will have to check up on them later.
This skirmish goes to me–but I came in a bit late in the game, so the victor of the battle itself remains to be seen.