Who’s Been Eating My Plants?

Not Goldilocks, that’s for sure

Bronwen Scott
3 min readJul 6, 2023
Norton’s Oak (Helicia nortoniana, Proteaceae) looking more oak-like thanks to the work of an small herbivore. © Bronwen Scott

Due to a combination of factors — weather, depleted potting mix, pests — my plant collection is suffering. I’ve had several deaths, particularly of Proteaceae, which prefer to be in the soil not in pots, and a few other species are looking peaky. I need a place of my own where they can be free.

The Norton’s Oak (Helicia nortoniana, Proteaceae, not an oak) is growing well, but the leaves are constantly chewed.

The two rainforest hibiscus are suffering a similar fate.

The Cape Tamarind (Toechima daemelianum, Sapindaceae, not a tamarind) is in an even worse situation. The leaf blades are mostly untouched, but something is chewing through the stalks. Every day I see another example of this wanton destruction. It annoys, distresses and, after I’m over the outrage, intrigues me.

Who are the culprits?

I’d like this to be a Sherlockian tale of deduction, but I have no great intellect and no deerstalker and I can’t play the violin. And uncovering the perpetrators was easier than typing this sentence.

Let me introduce you to their mugshots.

But first…The bite marks on the Norton’s Oak suggest a leaf-cutter bee has been at work. I have yet to see one on this plant, but I…



Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com