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Bee Balm

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From: Cathy Jeli
Holmes, NY
I just noticed each bud of my bee balm has a 1/4 inch white worm. The bud is not close to full bloom and I have never noticed this before. I am not sure what is causing the worms and do you have any suggestion on how these worms appeared after having established bee balm for 7 years? The leaves are also pale in color and spotted yellow.

Extension Message
From: James Schmidt
Extension Specialist, Home Horticulture/4-H
Department of Crop Sciences
Based on your description, I think the culprit is the larvae of Pyrausta signatalis - the raspberry pyrausta moth, of which the adult is pinkish in color. It's damage is as you describe. For control you might try Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, commonly sold as Bt in various formulations and by several companies. This product is not harmful to birds, bees, or other wildlife. However, the larvae must consume it (meaning they need to eat the plant) for it to be effective. The yellowing leaves and spotting should have no correlation with this pest, so something else is going on. Yellowing leaves can often be a sign of drought, while spotting can indicate disease. But without more definitive symptoms, I can't make a recommendation. If the symptoms continue to get worse, one option is to cut the plant back and let new shoots emerge.

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