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 Something is eating my grafted seedlings

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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Tue May 22, 2012 11:16 am

Hi everyone.
Last night I lost 20 seedlings that were grafted onto pereskiopsis. The night before that I lost 18. I found a slug in the humidity chamber that the first 18 were eaten, but I cannot find anything in the open area that last nights casualties were in. It's not eating the pereskiopsis, and it's not eating the spines. It's devouring the soft parts of the seedlings. Some of last nights casualties, include a number of 2 month old grafts of Ariocarpus, Lophophora, and the Japanese cultivars of Astrophytum. What would be doing this, and how should I deal with it?
Now I know this is my fault, while all of these seedlings are indoors, in a sealed room, last week I brought in a number of root stocks that I didn't clean up in my quarantine, so I know thats how the pest(s) got in.
Any advice on what else might be killing my plants, and how to get rid of them would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
IX
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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Tue May 22, 2012 2:56 pm


Considering the quantity that is being eaten the pest must be of considerable size or in great numbers. The first thing that popped into my head was mice, they can clean out an entire collection if your not careful.

At least mice are easy to test for buy a $1 mouse trap put some peanut butter on it and wait Smile

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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Tue May 22, 2012 5:41 pm

I took an afternoon nap, so now it's too late to go to Bunnings and get traps. So far, all the damage has been in one area, clustered in a group, and always on the smallest seedlings. I'm going to put everything into sets of contained humidity chambers, so if it's something hiding in one of the pots, I will know sort of where it is once it eats something else. When I get a chance I'll do a photo or two of the damage.
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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Tue May 22, 2012 11:35 pm

I found a cockroach in the greenhouse, would that eat cacti seedlings but not touch the pereskiopsis?
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Wed May 23, 2012 6:05 pm

Nah cockroach's won't harm your plants.

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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Thu May 24, 2012 1:09 pm

Last night had 10 more seedlings eaten. They were all in a cluster in one of the isolation trays I set up, so I knew the cacti killer was in there. There were also three 7-8mm diameter bright green poo piles in the tray. After pulling out around 30 of the rootstocks and repotting each of them, I finally found a dark gray, almost black caterpillar, 3cm long, curled up in one of the pots by the root stock of one of the seedlings that had been eaten. When I shook it out of that pot, it made another bright green poo (the remains of some astro red bean, and kikko koh-yo seedlings that it ate last night!). My wife says it might turn into a butterfly, and I should let it go in the back of our garden. What do all of you think? It wiped out over 50 grafted cacti seedlings in total.
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Thu May 24, 2012 6:46 pm

Dont give up on you grafts that have been chomped unless there is nothing left. I have had them grow back after something had eaten most of the insides out I just dusted with sulphur and surprisingly most survived.

I am sure your wife has good intentions and is a beautiful person but 50 grafted seedlings. The caterpillar must die maybe not a slow death but its time has come.

I had a green caterpillar munch it way though half of my pere stock in my propagation box a few months ago and it went to the big caterpillar garden in the sky. Twisted Evil

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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Fri May 25, 2012 1:31 am

None of the ones it chomped will regenerate, as it completely ate them (except for the spines), and then ate down into the tops of the pereskiopsis. So the seedlings are gone 100% (minus the spines of course). So anyhow, I have the caterpillar in a container, with a bunch of green things to munch on, and a small thing with water in it to drink. It can be the cacti cube mascot, at least until I see what kind of butterfly or moth it turns into. I was looking at the lables from the deceased cacti, and 2 were Turbinicarpus lophophoridies. It took out a few Ariocarpus as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Fri May 25, 2012 11:04 pm

At least you have the culprit !!

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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Sat May 26, 2012 7:11 pm

Wish I'd read this post earlier on, could have told you that it was a cutworm, nocturnal caterpillar, hides in your top dressing during the day. I've lost plenty of good scions to them. And no not a butterfly, a moth from the one my son and I kept in a jar and fed till he metamorphosed.
Always good to get amongst the cacti at night with a torch, weevils, moths, cutworms, slugs, earwigs etc. all easy prey by torch light. My son(6) and I go on regular nocturnal missions that greatly increase the pest population in that garden in the sky.
Did the same with my Gran when I was a boy...
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IXOXI
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PostSubject: Re: Something is eating my grafted seedlings   Sat May 26, 2012 10:57 pm

I google imaged cutworm, and thats exactly what this is. Well, it's currently happily contained, munching away on some damaged hylocereus that I was going to green bin anyhow. Wish I'd known what I was looking for sooner, I pulled a couple dozen grafted plants out of their pots, sifting through the soil till I found it. I still have not repotted all of them yet. It's been painful.
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