Little Black Eggs On My Plants

Posted on Jun 9 2010 - 3:45am by Mike Lieberman

The green oak lettuce on my balcony garden has not been doing well at all. When checking out the containers the other day, I took a closer look at it and noticed little black egg looking things that were accumulated at the bottom of the leaves.

I have no clue what they are, but can only describe them as caviar looking. They didn’t budge when I poked the with a stick and there were dozens of them lining the leaves around the soil line. I have no clue what they are and if they eventually grow into anything.

My assumption is that these and the cabbage worms, which I had to pick one off as I was checking out the container, are the reasons for the plant dying.

To be safe, I’m going to dig up the plant and get rid of it. I won’t throw it into my compost. Not sure what I’ll do with the soil though.

What’s your thoughts on what the hell those things could be and what to do with the soil?


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  • Shannon Rose
  • Mike Lieberman

    The general consensus seems to be that it's cabbage worm crap. Mmm…

  • Vicki B

    Mike – it's definitely worm poop – technically called “frass”. Often, you'll see this before you even spot the worm/caterpillar. Another note, since lettuces tend to be cooler weather crops, you could expect some natural decline as the weather warms so it's not all about the worm damage.

    It would be safe to compost the plants, poop, and worm remains.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Vicki. I guess I'll feed them to my worm then. They'll eat anything.

  • indoor kitty

    Never tried it, but I've heard that you can used a homemade “pizza box” solar oven to effectively sterilize your soil. I'm thinking of making one to make my Alton Brown Baked Tomato sauce. (….) Can't recommend this recipe highly enough. No blanching/peeling. (In fact seeding is kind of unnecessary.) Works great with tiny little tomatoes. Freezes well. More or less a set it and forget operation. You can mush the cooked tomatoes through a strainer if you don't have a food mill, but if you like the sauce, a food mill is worth the investment.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I've seen a bunch of DIY dehydrator type contraptions. Have wanted to make one, but haven't yet. Lemme know how yours turns out.

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  • Lizzie

    Do you really need to sterilize the soil? Not likely, just turn it over thoroughly. If you feel you must, you can secure a thick plastic sheet over the container for a month – that'll solarize the soil, and you can turn it over. The trouble is getting rid of the darn worms, and your best bet is to just pick them off.

    I am in So Cal too – zone 23. Last year I had trouble with horn worms on one of my tomato plants. They we're a nuisance, but they didn't harm too many tomatoes, mainly leaves.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. I have some black bags that I might use. Like you said, I don't think that I'm gonna have to though. I've been pickin the cabbage worms. Need to get some row covers to protect my stuff.

    I've heard that putting a piece of potato close to your tomato plant will help with the horn worms bc they will be attracted to that.

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  • Liz Foulis

    I've got the caviar type eggs(?) too. It may be Swift Moth eggs….but I'm still researching.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. Apparently it's cabbage worm crap.

  • Mary Ann Birchfield

    Hey Mike! Dang! Bummer! How bout a couple bird feeders hanging to attract some birds.  They’d assist you to rid you of those pesky munchers! :) 

  • Mike Lieberman

    Quite possibly there are already a lot of crows in the area.

  • David Manson

    Yeah, that’s worm poop or “frass”.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Appreciate the heads-up!

  • Sales

    Yes, it’s the worm poop. I foundd that once. There where a few giant worms.

  • Annejones_4

    Yup. Just use a little BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) a safe biological control for worms.

  • MrJSaul

    I just had the same thing – they covered my lettuce plants! Ever find out what they were? Was it worm poo and no need to worry or was it eggs and I need to get rid of the potential infestation asap?!

  • Mike Lieberman

    It’s poop from cabbage worms. Get on that.

  • Meg Roach

    i have little tiny black balls all in my flowers and they are inside all the buds, the flowers don’t bloom when all the buds are full of them.they aren’t attached i can shake them off but i have no idea what they are. The plant is doing awful compared to the other one i have.

  • bob

    ok same looking black attached by what seems to be a web hard so even when use flat side of knife does not squash what is it and all over the garden not just one type of plant