What’s Eating my Clematis Leaves on My 6th Floor Deck?

Q: I have a clematis growing on my 6th floor deck. Something is eating the
leaves, but I do not see any aphids, or any presence of moths/white
butterflies. What else could be doing this so high up?

You are probably experiencing a night visitor like a climbing cutworm or earwig. Cutworms are easier to handpick when it is dark since the caterpillar rests beneath the surface of the soil during the daytime. Usually cutworms when placed in your hand will curl up in a letter “C”. The have big appetite and devour your plants starting from the leaf margin. Fecal droppings may be evidence of their presence.

Earwigs are tougher to find. These insects are basically nocturnal. Damage can be quite variable from chewed leaf margins to the middle of the leaf. Fecal drops are not present. Rolled-up newspaper can serve as a lure to attract earwigs and can be emptied during the daytime. Earwigs can also be beneficial by feeding on other plant-eating insects.