WSU Extension Q&A: What is eating my petunias?

WSU ExtensionJuly 10, 2014 


Flowering annuals like petunias are nectar plants for butterflies.


Q. My tomato plants are large and full, but are not setting fruit. I have provided plenty of water and fertilizer. What could be the problem?

A. Too much water and nitrogen fertilizer can cause tomato plants to produce large amounts of vegetative growth. When this occurs, often there is a low concentration of carbohydrates in the plant, which are needed for reproduction or fruit growth.

Q. I have lots of irregular holes in the petunias in my garden. I know something is eating them, but I can't figure out what it is. What can I do?

A. It's probably earwigs, but to be sure, go out after dark and check. You can also try trapping the culprits by placing a moistened, rolled-up section of newspaper, short piece of garden hose or irrigation pipe next to the plants in the evening. First thing in the morning, look inside to see if you have earwigs or another pest. Shake them into a pail of soapy water to get rid of them. Do this each day until your earwig population dwindles.

Trapping and destroying these ugly pests is one way to decrease damage to flowers. You can also make traps out of tuna fish or cat food cans. Place them in the garden and fill them about 1/3 full with vegetable oil; dispose of the captured earwigs and refill the cans.

Q. I am thinking of raising goats for meat. Are there any classes available to get me started?

A. Yes, Langston University and Penn State University have an online class series that will provide the information. The resources are available at and

Other resources include the folks at Washington State University Extension Small Farms Team at

Q. The trunk on my cherry tree is starting to split. I was told to paint it white and that would help to keep it from splitting. Is that what you would recommend?

A. Painting the trunk white helps the trunk not get sunburn. Sunburn is only one reason a trunk can split. There are also diseases that can cause splitting and gummosis (looks like oozing sap). When a tree is young, the paint may help, but eventually the bark will be hardy enough to withstand the sun.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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