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What Is Eating My Dahlia Leaves

Dahlias are cultivated in gardens for their luscious blooms and eye-catching, vibrant flowers. You can find them in countless colors, yet quickly wonder what is eating your healthy dahlia plants.

You can ask what is causing Dahlia leaf problems. Many things can affect your leaves and leave you with sick-looking plants. While you may ask if squirrels eat dahlias, some things appear to chew large holes rather than leave you with shredded leaves.

In our guide, you can learn more about the many pests that eat your dahlias and how to get pest-resistant dahlia varieties. By the end, you’ll know what causes these problems and how you can stop these things from ruining your dahlia leaves. (Read Japanese Maple Losing Leaves In Summer)

What Is Eating My Dahlia Leaves

What is a Dahlia?

Dahlia is a unique flowering plant with simple leaves and pretty flowers with colorful flower petals. White, yellow, red, and purple flowers bloom, and dahlias grow as wildflowers or garden flowers.

Both have different-shaped petals; a wild dahlia plant comes with disk and ray flowers on the flowering heads, while the garden dahlia has shortened ray flowers. The Dahlias grow in most soils, bloom late in summer, and live until autumn frost.

Pests and insects may damage your dahlia leaves. This may be because of morning leaves. Also, it may be why your dahlia plants have a slimy trail. These are red flags for aliens in your garden. Snails, slugs, caterpillars, and thrips leave such trails. Overfeeding on plant leaves slows the growth and stunts flower growth.

While most of the things here are eating your plants, it doesn’t cover areas such as viral diseases: mosaic virus, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew among them. Another is bacterial stem rot, starting at the soil level to work the plant’s stems upwards.

What is Eating My Dahlia Leaves?

Pests and insects of all kinds prey on dahlia plants. Therefore, there is intense competition from the predators whenever a dahlia blooms. To eat dahlia leaves, this includes snails and slugs, the two significant predators at the top of the food chain. Caterpillars and thrips are the other two members of the Dahlia food chain.

While some pests are worse than others, some occasionally feed, while others attach one plant and strip the entire plant bare before moving on. (Read Can Goats Eat Oak Leaves)

snail on leaves

Slugs and Snails Eat Dahlias

Snails and slugs aren’t great prey animals as they leave a slimy trail; this is one way to find them on your Dahlia. You know who’s hiding their tracks if your dahlia leaves are missing. Here’s how to rid your healthy dahlia plants of snails and slugs. You can stay in the garden at night or wake up early; you only need to handpick them and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.

You can also trap these by placing a bowl of beer near your dahlia plants. They’ll enter the bowl as they are attracted to the beer and won’t be able to climb out and eventually die from drowning. Snails and slugs affect dahlias with costly damage. One way to prevent their approach is to cover the soil around your dahlias with two inches of rough mulch, as this can prevent them from crawling toward your plants.

If you keep your eggs, you can use crushed eggshells or even wood ashes to deter slugs from your young Dahlia and other plants under attack. Besides this, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants. This will pierce the skin and cause them to dehydrate. However, it is helpful for ants and other hard-shelled insects that could fancy your Dahlia’s leaves in the early summer. (Read Why Are Grape Vine Leaves Turning Brown)


Caterpillars eat dahlia leaves and many other plants in the area.

Caterpillars feed on Dahlia leaves on the outside of the leaf as they move in and then hide inside dahlia leaves. It can be simple to spot where caterpillars have been, as they leave a distinct chewing pattern.

  • Another sign is curled leaves on your plants.
  • Like snails and slugs, the best way to get rid of caterpillars is by handpicking at night or early in the morning.
  • You can also seek the help of bacteria to deter caterpillars. For example, bacillus thuringiensis can be applied to your dahlia plant, and you’ll see they are left alone.


Thrips are more harmful pests to have on your dahlia plants.

Thrips are tiny, slender pests with fringed wings that drink plant juices from dahlia plant leaves. Stunted plant growth hinders reproduction rather than seeing them devour dahlia leaves.

  • Thrips move quickly between plants, making insecticides ineffective.
  • Spraying dahlias with the garden hose will help control thrips. This needs to be done around three times a day on alternate days.
  • You can also spray insecticidal soap or dish soap on affected dahlias to kill thrips and other pests you may find and prevent stunted growth.

To remove aphids from Dahlias’ infested branches, vigorously spray soapy water. To find aphids early, hang sticky, yellow cards around Dahlia plants. If there are an excessive number of aphids, spray Neem oil on the Dahlia plants that are infected.

Spider Mites

These arachnid-like plant pests, like thrips, affect dahlias as they suck plant juices and cause yellow splotches on dahlia foliage leading to curled leaves. Dahlias lose their vigor, and their leaves wilt and fall off when these pests attack them. Small and complex to see without a magnifying glass, spider mites are a nuisance. Search for traces of their webs among the leaves. They do their best in warm, dry weather.

Using horticultural oil sprays and insecticidal soaps can manage Spider mites on affected plants. Spray insecticidal soap on your affected plants and reapply after two weeks or the following rain.


Will Earwigs eat Dahlias?

To hide from predators, earwigs eat holes in dahlia plants’ leaves and bury themselves in the dahlia flowers and leaves. Earwigs pierce dahlia leaves. Although an earwig infestation won’t kill a Dahlia plant, it may stunt it and harm the flowers.

Earwigs are a third option because they chew holes in leaves or tunnel into dahlia stems, leaving a sooty mold at the base of plants where they make their nests. (Read Do Bananas Grow On Trees Or Bushes)

Grasshoppers on Dahlia

Grasshoppers can also consume dahlia leaves. So even though they are not common pests, they can infest dahlia plants. Nosema locustae can be eradicated if there is a minor infestation. The naturally occurring bacteria will effectively kill grasshoppers. The susceptible plants are surrounded by grasshopper bait sprayed with this bacteria to make them pest-resistant, and they won’t eat dahlia leaves.

Capsid Bugs and Dahlias

Dahlia leaves are frequently deformed by capsid bugs as they adore piercing holes. Bright green, beetle-like insects are called capsid bugs. The life cycle of dahlia plants is severely harmed because they lead to the abortion of flower buds. In addition, capsid insects eat the sap from dahlia plants.

As they consume the plant, they inject poison into it. Capsid bugs detract from the beauty of Dahlias, so take action immediately. Advice for preventing capsid bugs on dahlias

  • If you see any leaf litter around your dahlias, remove it.
  • If the infestation is severe, treat the affected Dahlia plants with an insecticide based on pyrethrin.
  • Note: Avoid using insecticides because capsid bugs are quick to move on, and doing so will harm your plants and beneficial insects.

japanese beetle

Do Japanese Beetles eat Dahlia?

Japanese beetles eat dahlias. Japanese beetles devour dahlias if left unchecked because they are constantly hungry. In the past, dahlias would bloom in the fall. However, dahlias now bloom throughout the year. Because of this, Japanese Beetles have the opportunity to eat flowers. When Dahlias are at their busiest, you can prune them back. It shouldn’t be too difficult since they are only active for one month.

How to get rid of Japanese beetles on Dahlias

As soon as you spot the adult beetles, manually collect them. To remove Japanese Beetles from the affected Dahlia plants, apply Neem oil. To avoid an infestation, cover your dahlia plants with row covers. Give this cover a month to work correctly.

Do Ants eat Dahlias?

Ants do not eat dahlias. However, an excellent sign that pesky aphids are present on your Dahlia plant is the presence of ants. Ants are drawn to the “Honeydew” that the aphids excrete. This honeydew attracts ants and a variety of fungi.

Best Insecticide for Dahlias

The most effective insecticides for dahlias are eucalyptus and neem oils. Another effective way to get rid of insect pests is with insecticidal soap spray. Of course, you should always use organic insecticides. (Read How Big Does Aloe Get)

The insecticides listed below can get rid of various pests.

In Dahlia, the insecticidal spray effectively gets rid of bugs.

  • A bacterial remedy to get rid of caterpillars on your dahlias is Bacillus thurnigiensis (Bt).
  • A fantastic way to reduce the variety of insect pests that eat dahlias is to use “Orthenex.”

Can you use Sevin Dust on Dahlias?

Yes, you can eliminate various insect pests on dahlias with Sevin dust. Use it for the insects listed on the product’s label.

Why Is My Dahlia Leaves Turning Yellow?

Many things can cause yellowing dahlia leaves. One is that there may not be enough water, and the plant needs to drink, or it may have been overwatered, causing the roots to rot. Yellowing, wilting, and drooping dahlia leaves are also symptoms of nutrient deficiency. This is because plants need different nutrients at different stages of development.

What To Do When Dahlia Leaves Turn Yellow?

If the leaves are wilted, yellowing, or drooping, increase watering, but the roots may have rotted if the pots have no drainage. The plant needs water. If yellowing, wilting, or drooping dahlia leaves are caused by nutrient deficiency, a soil test will determine which nutrients your plants need at different stages of development.

Homemade Insecticide for Dahlias

The steps to make a gallon of organic insecticide are listed below. This insecticide is created using soap; the plants or helpful insects are not harmed.

What you need:

  • 1 Gallon of water
  • 1 table of liquid soap
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil

In a spray bottle or container, combine water and liquid soap. Add vegetable oil to spray this mixture on the infested plant. Vegetable oil makes the mixture sticky, increasing the insecticide’s effectiveness. Using this mixture, soak the infected plants.

After two weeks from the initial treatment, spray this. After the second treatment, you’ll probably have eradicated the insects. (Read What Do Plants Need To Survive)

Do Rabbits Eat Dahlias Leaves?

Rabbits will eat dahlia leaves and may be tempted to dig down to eat dahlia tubers as a more substantial snack. However, more than these will attack different parts of your dahlia plants.

Here’s a quick list of how they may affect plants in your garden.

  • Squirrels and Chipmunks: Dahlia bulbs are a favorite here, and they dig up the dahlia bulbs rather than the flowers.
  • Mice and voles: These rodents will feed on dahlia bulbs, yet underground, and won’t try to dig them up.
  • Rats: Bigger rodents may feed on your dahlia flowers
  • Gophers: These will dig up your garden bed to get at the Dahlia tubers.
  • Deer & Moose: Only in certain conditions will deer try to eat Dahlia.
  • Groundhogs: These furry animals have a penchant for dahlia leaves.

Although some animals are adept at controlling caterpillars and other pests that prey on dahlia plants, others gorge themselves on these prized perennials and dahlia bulbs.

Depending on the animals harming your dahlia flowers, you can take several steps to reduce the infestation.

Here are a few efficient tips to keep in mind

  • Deer, rabbits, and other furry animals can be kept out of the plants with fencing. But remember, burrowing animals can dig underneath the wire.
  • Using a wire basket to cultivate flowers
  • Planting in a pot with openings

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