Seedling was mysteriously chopped off.


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Hello guys! I'm new to gardening and have come across something that I couldn't figure out this morning.

I have planted sweet pea and watermelon seeds on pots (to be transferred later to a larger container) 4 days ago and was excited last night that my sweet pea seeds are starting to break out of the soil.

This morning I was happy to see the seedlings to have finally broken out but was shocked to find out that one of my seedling got it's top cut off. Not eaten off, Just cut off. Now I'm fearful for my other seedlings. What do you think could have caused it?

I see some very tiny shiny brown bugs on the soil sometimes or could it be cockroaches?
 
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Hello and welcome kramoacap! There are a number of bugs that will do that. Cut worms, and mid-sized to large ants are common culprits. In my garden it is almost always the large ants that make a clean cut at the base of the stem and don't even bother to eat what they cut off. Either way,when the seedling comes up, put rocks all around the base of the seedling so what ever it is, cannot get its teeth into the stem. If the tops are being eaten off the stem, it may be slugs or snails. Still rocks around the seedling will help or especially effective for slugs and snails is to surround the seedlings with a "collar" of aluminum foil...i have had great success using aluminum foil to stop slugs and snails. I think i have the small shiny bugs you are talking about. I've always thought they were a type of cockroach. If they are very tiny they must be immatures, mine will grow to about a 1/2" to 1" (about 1 to 2.5 cm). I always squish them and so have never taken a photo to post for an ID. My sense is that they tend to eat roots under ground rather than above ground things but i am not sure about that. I find them fairly deep in the soil generally. If i water the soil they all come running to the top where i can easily squish them.
 
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Hi Beverly! Thank you for the reply. I've googled cutworms but I don't think they're the culprits. I don't see any caterpillars around my seedlings and they also won't have any other plants to hide in because I only have my small pots of soils on my window.

It's weird. It's like, one day they're fine, then something strikes in the night and snips them. They're not eaten. They just look like the top was cut off near the part where the leaves start. It's always laying on the ground next to the stem. I mean, are there bugs that just want to kill off seedlings?

About the bugs, they're very tiny just maybe a couple of millimeters in size but they do come out when I water my seedlings.

>_<
 
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Please do not take this wrong (we are in Texas and are intimately acquainted with all sorts of vermin) but could it possibly be mice? I put seedlings in pots in the barn to harden off before planting, and have to cover them at night. I lost quite a few seedlings last year until I figured out the problem.
I'm not suggesting that your home isn't clean, just that mice might come in and do damage.
 
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Do you have any mid-sized to large ants around? They are the critters that usually cut my seedlings without eating what is on the ground. They make a very clean cut. Leaf-cutter ants will cut vegetation and leave it on the ground for other leaf-cutter ants to pick up and take back to the tunnels, but i don't know if you have those ants in the Philippines and it is possible that other ants do the same. Of course, there are always slugs and snails but they usually eat what they cut. Try collars of aluminum foil or rocks around the base to see if that works. Also DE (diatomaceous earth) is organic and a very effective deterrent if it is available to you there.
 
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Please do not take this wrong (we are in Texas and are intimately acquainted with all sorts of vermin) but could it possibly be mice? I put seedlings in pots in the barn to harden off before planting, and have to cover them at night. I lost quite a few seedlings last year until I figured out the problem.
I'm not suggesting that your home isn't clean, just that mice might come in and do damage.


Hi Marlin! Hmmm.. thinking of it, one of my pots got dug on the same night this happened. It was shallow, though. I really haven't seen any mice in my home ever since but it could also be a possibility.
 
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Do you have any mid-sized to large ants around? They are the critters that usually cut my seedlings without eating what is on the ground. They make a very clean cut. Leaf-cutter ants will cut vegetation and leave it on the ground for other leaf-cutter ants to pick up and take back to the tunnels, but i don't know if you have those ants in the Philippines and it is possible that other ants do the same. Of course, there are always slugs and snails but they usually eat what they cut. Try collars of aluminum foil or rocks around the base to see if that works. Also DE (diatomaceous earth) is organic and a very effective deterrent if it is available to you there.

Hi Bev! Yes, there are ants hanging around my pots. It's summer here and they just appear wherever there is moisture.

I'll look for DE next time I go to the local garden shop here.
 
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Here are my pots. Just something small for a noob like me to start with. 3 pots for sugar snap peas and 2 pots for watermelon. They'll be transferred later when I'm done with my window container.

I took a photo of the crime scene.

I've also included the photo of those tiny brown bugs on my soil. looks like very small ticks.

Also, I've sprayed citronella oil on my pots last night because it's the only natural insect repellent I have on hand. Thank God the incident did not happen again.
 

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Do you think you could get a photo of one of the shiny brown cockroach-like bugs? It would be super to get an ID for those guys. I do all my gardening outside and generally don't have a camera with me when i am digging in the dirt. Maybe i could catch one in a jar and get a photo that way. I'll try and if i am successful, i'll post it here and if you have some success, perhaps you will do the same? I'm pretty sure we are talking about the same bug but it would be good to get an ID. I'd be happy to get the ID...i know a super bug guy. What do you think? Does this sound interesting to you or no?
 
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:)I guess we were working on our posts at the same time. That is a very small bug you have there and no, we are not talking about the same thing. If you can get a bit closer up and add more contrast to the photo, i can try to get an ID for what you are finding in your soil.
 
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:)I guess we were working on our posts at the same time. That is a very small bug you have there and no, we are not talking about the same thing. If you can get a bit closer up and add more contrast to the photo, i can try to get an ID for what you are finding in your soil.

Yes, they are very very very tiny! haha! I'll try to use a better camera next time. They're the only bugs I see living in the soil. Thank you!
 
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