After several years of wrestling Japanese beetles into submission, I thought I had won and that this year, my Virginia creeper would finally be pest-free. Well, today I noticed a different type of hole pattern on many of its leaves. Some are very big and some holes are tiny. Then I found the culprit, I think. I am attaching photos of the holes in the leaves and one of the actual insect – a caterpillar, perhaps? Can you identify it and tell me what to do?
Although your photo isn’t very clear and it’s difficult to determine the size of the insect, I believe your Virginia Creeper leaves are being eaten by the larvae of flea beetles. These pests eat large & small holes in between the leaf veins and are commonly found on vines including grapes.
Your best bet now is to try to lessen the infestation by hand picking off the insects and that includes any adults you spot. If there are too many to hand pick, you could try hanging up sticky traps in your vine which will trap the adults as well as the larvae but these will have to be replaced fairly often as they fill up quite quickly. Another option is to use a horticultural oil spray which you should be able to find in any good nursery- read instructions carefully for application times/rates.
As the adults overwinter in the soil, there are a few things you can do to lessen the population next year, see below.
- Hoe & cultivate under your vine in order to disturb winter habitat.
- Remove all leaf debris from the area in the fall.
- Keep weeds down and remove & dispose of into the city garden waste collection.
- In the spring sprinkle Diatomaseous Earth on the soil surface – this should be done repeatedly as it gets washed away with rain or irrigation.
Hope this helps.