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PestNet is a network that helps people worldwide obtain rapid advice and information on crop protection, including the identification and management of plant pests. It started in 1999. Anyone with an interest in plant protection is welcome to join. PestNet is free and is moderated, ensuring that messages are confined to plant protection.
Crops > Vegetables > Eggplant > Seedling stem damage, Hawaii
May 2001. A transplant problem in Hawaii. The stems of newly transplanted eggplants were eaten just above ground level. The eggplants were still young – perhaps 2-weeks old. Suggestion were requested on a likely cause.
Various suggestions were made: slugs, snails or, perhaps, cutworms, Spodoptera (Prodenia) litura. As to control measures: all transplants should be sheathed in a layer of newspaper when they are planted; just wrap it a couple of times, and leave about 2-3 inches above ground. Small stones may also work, just so the ‘worm’ cannot wrap itself around the stem as it eats. Any formulation of Bt will be effective, used as a dust or spray around the stems. It must be re-applied after rains or watering. Diatomaceous earth will also deter/destroy such caterpillars at the base of plants.
Achatina fulica, giant African snail was thought another possibility. Attack can be prevented by baiting with chopped papaya leaves and stems; these make an excellent bait for snails and, perhaps, slugs, too. Bait with a board beneath so they have a place to hide; it also makes it easier to find them and pick them up early in the morning.
Other possibilities suggested were cerambycid adults, the Common brown grasshopper (Aiolopus tamulus: Orthoptera/Acrididae) – causes damage in Tonga. If the latter, control by spraying with carbaryl was suggested.