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thyme problem #364637 - Ask Extension


thyme problem #364637

Asked September 21, 2016, 6:05 PM EDT

Is there an insect that will strip leaves off of thyme? Haven't seen any caterpillars or worms, but on one plant with dozens of stems, the leaves are stripped from 50-90% of their length. None of the stems is damaged, so it presumably can't be a larger animal chewing them, and the remaining leaves look healthy and there are no dead ones at the base so it can't be a disease. I do have skinks around but apparently they are carnivores. Couldn't find anything online. Can you help?

Anne Arundel County Maryland

Expert Response

That's a hard one. Thyme doesn't usually have any serious pest problems. We'd venture to guess slugs, or maybe cutworms. You could watch for slime trails and go out at night with a flashlight to look for these or other night feeders.

Not surprised you are flummoxed, and to add to the mystery, 1) it was on raised deck so slime trails would have been quite visible - but nonexistent, 2) there were 4 thyme plants all next to each other, and only one was impacted, 3) after i removed the infected plant the other 3 suddenly became different - but not by the leaf stripping, but instead the leaves within a week are quite stippled (on top, but nothing under leaves and no frass), and noticed same compromised leaves on nearby rosemary (so different activity by new instar of same pest?) and 5) i read an article about a mold affecting thyme but as previously stated the stems looked fine and they still do on all 4 plants.  Know it is difficult without pics, and will send if can find a helper.
The Question Asker Replied September 22, 2016, 6:02 PM EDT
It could have been a caterpillar that is now long gone.  It is possible that you will never know the guilty party.  vw

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