Holes In Hosta Leaves-It Might Not Be Who You Think!

Rhonda B
by Rhonda B
So, you walk by your prized Hosta one afternoon on a stroll and it looks like this:
Hosta "Guacamole" with damage
or this:
Hosta "Lakeside Shore Master" with damage
or this:
Hosta "Journey's End" with damage
Your first thought is probably to go and grab the beer, eggshells or the copper banding. To be honest, these things might not work. The damage in the pictures above is not from the infamous slug but from another enemy of the gardener-the cutworm. At this time of year (late Spring) cutworms are usually the culprits in my garden.

So, you ask, how do you tell the difference. Well, it seems that cutworms make larger "neater" holes. Here are some examples
cutworm damage
cutworm damage
cutworm damage
Slugs, on the other hand, are "messier" if that makes any sense. Since I apparently don't have any slug damage at this time I found this photo online of an example:
slug damage
If you still don't know which you have you can go out at night with a flashlight and look for the culprit(s). Both slugs and cutworms like to feed at night. You can also look for cutworms during the day. Here is how I do it:

Find a Hosta that is being attacked.
Hosta "Journey's End"
Gently pull back the mulch from around the Hosta
Look carefully around the Hosta, I found this cutworm at the base of the stems on this Hosta
Can you spot the cutworm in the photo below?
Now all you need to do is squish it. No chemicals needed:-)) Seriously, finding them and squishing them has been the best and easiest way I have found to control them. If you catch them early enough you won't have significant damage to your Hosta.

Here is a cutworm I found near my Hosta "Guacamole"
Did you notice how far away from the Hosta this one was? You have to make sure to check the whole area surrounding the Hosta-they can be anywhere around it. I usually will only find one cutworm in an area, but I usually check the entire area just in case.

So, the next time you have holes in your Hosta don't blame the slug, you could have a different enemy:-))

Stop by my blog for tips and gardening ideas!
Rhonda B
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 15 questions
  • Millie Millie on Mar 04, 2019

    Can u grow Hosts in the house and do they need a lot of sun or could they live in a basement apartment.

  • 1lo69146865 1lo69146865 on Aug 14, 2022

    Can Hostas grow in the house?? I have mine in pots outside in a low light area and I live in Ponchatoula, La. I really don’t want to lose them when it gets cold so I was wanting to bring them inside during the cold weather…

  • Carol Carol on Oct 04, 2022

    What do you do to deter rabbits?

Join the conversation
2 of 38 comments
  • Judy Judy on Nov 10, 2022

    Omg!!!! Thank you so much for this info. My hostas always get yukky! Now i can save them!

  • Kappygo Kappygo on May 27, 2023

    I'm with Judy. I've spent hundreds of dollars over the years on slug killer and find it really helps, but now I know the REAL problem are cutworms. Thank you so very very much for this info and I have my day planned now.