Advanced damage
Mystery blight - right side of plant
almost completely gone

This spring and summer I've found myself trying to unravel a gardening mystery. My plants all look healthy; but something is not right. At first it was just a leaf disappearing, here and there; then it advanced to growing points that suddenly truncate. Lately entire sections of otherwise healthy plants have disappeared!

I delved through the gardening resources offered by WSU, hoping to find an answer... but with no luck. Searching the available academic literature, and even the wider web, also provided no clues. Nearing my wits end, I began carefully, methodically monitoring my plants - and discovered that the vector for this unknown pathogen is a heretofore unidentified garden pest.

These pests vary significantly in size and color, which complicated the initial identification efforts. However they are typically large and easy to spot, once you have some idea of what you're looking for.

Washington State Univerity's Cooperative Extension is typically excellent; but I have to say the land grant university has completely dropped the ball on this one. As such, I think I am justified in putting forward a name for this new scourge. And while the taxonomists may eventually prefer a descriptor more in line with their current naming conventions, I posit that the name "Puppy Blight" is both accurate and descriptive.

Vector One
Vector One
Vector Two (and likely Mastermind)
Vector Two
(and likely Mastermind)

As is the case with many garden pests, the only control method I've found to be reasonably effective is using a barrier. However this pest laughs at Reemay - so you'll have to invest in heavy gauge fencing. And, even then, these pests are sometimes able to go around, under, or over the barrier... so some losses are probably inevitable.

Please, PLEASE keep an eye out for evidence of this pest spreading to your gardens. Warn your neighbors! Guard your children (Actually, your children might weigh in on the pests' side in this)! And Good Luck.

All contents © Travis Saling
This page was last updated August 24, 2022