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Help please! What is eating my magnolia?

laurie12laurie12 East SussexPosts: 19
Hi all! Have tried to find answers here and online, but nothing seems quite to match! Fingers crossed you can help :) It was given to me by my kids on mothers day about 3 years ago and is in a large tub. Up to now it has been perfectly happy and flowering, but now look:jh

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  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337
    I am 100% certain that is caterpillar damage (likely some type of moth) and if you look carefully, you should find tiny caterpillars on the back of those leaves which are being eaten.  You can rub them off with your fingers or, as magnolia flowering time has now passed so there is no danger it of affecting pollinating insects, spray it with a bug spray from the garden centre.  Remove the worst affected leaves completely.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • laurie12laurie12 East SussexPosts: 19
    Thank you Bob! I did look at the leaves quite closely, but will look again and do as you suggest. Cheers! Your signature made me laugh, I have lost my favourite one and the handle is green ARGHHHHH!
  • laurie12laurie12 East SussexPosts: 19
    Would they also attack coreopsis and ranuncula?
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337
    edited June 2020
    It's possible that the caterpillars themselves have now been eaten by something else or could have pupated.  They are really tiny though and will lie along leaf veins etc. to hide themselves so can be tricky to spot.  I would also look under the rim of the pot for small snails as you could have more than one thing eating them - young magnolia leaves seem to be on the menu of quite a few pests!
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • laurie12laurie12 East SussexPosts: 19
    Good point about the caterpillars! I will get dressed now (!) and have a hunt. Thank you so much for your help x
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