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Mr. Smarty Plants - Something eating Monarda didyma in Washington DC

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Thursday - June 30, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pests, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Something eating Monarda didyma in Washington DC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please Help, I have a couple of Bee Balm, Jacob Cline, plants, whose leave are being eaten, by what I do not know. None of the nurseries around here seem to have ever heard of this happening to this particular plant. I took some front and back photos to show you if that would help.

ANSWER:

Sorry, we do not have the computer infrastructure to accept photographs, nor do we have any plant named just "Bee Balm" in our Native Plant Database. There are a number of species of the genus Monarda that have a common name of beebalm.  The 'Jacob Cline' you refer to is no doubt a trade name, but is the native Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm. It has been selected for darker reds, which also are thought to be more mildew resistant. The funny thing is, although this is bee balm, bees are slow to get to it, because they don't see the color red. The butterflies see red just fine, clustering around the fragrant plant, and the bees find it soon enough.

Monarda is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, so we are looking for pests of mint. As to what is eating your beebalm, the main problem we found was mildew, but that just turns the leaves and blossoms dark, no eating involved. We found papers from universities on some of the insect pests, and will link you to them. We urge you not to use any poison sprays, but treat with sprays of water or even soapy water, in order to not also kill the beneficial insects that visit your monarda, like butterflies, ladybugs and bees.

Monarda Plant Health Problems from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Mint Flea Beetles from Oregon State University

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

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