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Leaf-Tiers (Olethreutes ferriferana)
These pests are most commonly seen on Annabelle Hydrangeas.(Hydrangea arborescens).
In early Spring, the adult moths lay eggs on the tips of the shoots of these Hydrangeas.
They look like small pouches and the top leaves are “tied” together with a silk-like material the worm uses to stick the leaves shut where this tight little pocket keeps them safe from other pests who would love to use them for lunch.
........this is what you will see on your ‘Annabelles’
If you are not squeamish, gently pull the leaves apart and you will see the ‘worm’ or caterpillar… it is a light green colour with a dark head. Squash this worm or it will eat the tiny floret that should end up a large white ball… if you don’t, most likely your plant will have fewer blooms… all the dark spots you see inside with him, are his droppings….
When the caterpillar has eaten its fill of yummy flower buds, it falls to the ground where it buries itself in the ground and waits while it matures. Next Spring, the grow up and become brown and white moths that on the ground or on a leaf, looks a lot like bird droppings.. great camouflage.
At night, while you are asleep after a day in the garden, it is out there laying more eggs.
Alternatively to squashing them with your fingers, you could simply snip off the offending leaf tips… but as these hold the potential blooms, you may have a lot fewer blooms so make your decision based on that.
You could pay your children 5 cents each worm to do that…. and they would have more fun…. just be careful they don’t ruin the buds or you may as well have cut them off yourself and saved a few bucks.
Try to deal with them as soon as possible or the flower buds may already be eaten.