What in the hell is eating my chilli plant seedlings?

I currently live in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. I have just started, or rather well on the way to having, a good garden on the go.
Managed to get toms to start, peas, beans, corn, zucchini, cabbage etc. It's looking promising.
I have two questions. Some of the plants in the garden have started to be eaten. The swiss chard and beans in particular. They have small holes over the leaves but I am unable to see any evidence of slugs or snails. There are quite a few woodlouse hanging around. Could this be the issue? I can't actually see anything eating them and things like the cabbage and some (some!?) of the sunflowers have remained unscathed. The peas are also fine.
Any ideas what this could be?
Secondly, I have always grown chillis from seed in the house then had them growin in window boxes in the past (I am originally from the UK and they did fine in London!).
I have now started to grow them here, but they get going and then something chops the tops off the seedlings! I did have aphids in the house on some house plants but I am dealing with these now.
Again, I can't see the culprit but I put them outside this morning in order to get them some good sun and they were fine. A couple of hours later and one of the seedlings has lost its top and the other has a half eaten leaf!
What is it!?
Any suggestions gratefully received.
GJCLAYTON
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gjclayton

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If it's slugs or snails, there should be a shiny trail of slime where they have been. If it is possible that it is gastropods, get non-toxic snail bail that contains iron-phosphate (ferric-phosphate).
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- Billy
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gjclayton wrote:

It could be cutworms, or rabbits. Last year a rabbit topped all of my little pepper plants.
Where are they getting cut off (ground level, or a couple of inches high?) Is the top laying on the ground next to the stump or is it gone?
Bob
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@gardenbanter.co.uk says...

Sounds like flea beetles.
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Thanks for all of your responses.
As for the outdoor plants: Swiss Chard, Beans etc... They have been eaten by something which isn't leaving any signs except for the holes. There are no trails, or sightings of any beasties except for the holes. As I mentioned there are a lot of woodlouse wandering around, the odd earwig, apart from that I can't see anything. Its not a major issue as I think that they are growing fine regardless.
Do you think that this will impede the growth?
As for the chillis. They are being overnighted inside, near the plants that have had greenfly/aphids in the past (although I "think" I got rid of them). Then I put them outside and they got eaten right at the top of the stem. As if the leaves were the only thing that went. They are tiny (about 1cm high) and some are fine. There was a slight ball of ooze on the top of the stem after it had its leaves dispatched, this may have been the plants own liquids gushing out!
Anyway, they were placed in their pot on a low wall and got eaten within the hr!
Thanks again for your responses.
G
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gjclayton


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@gardenbanter.co.uk says...

Is this what you are talking about?
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/rhodcv/hort410/8001.jpg
If so, it's flea beetle damage... and for the most part you won't see them. They're tiny and quick.
We've had a lot of damage from these suckers over the years. The little buggers here like chard, spinach and beets over everything else.
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Got me thinking of a trap crop.
<http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146%2Fannurev.en.36.0101 91.001003>
<http://www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/veg/htms/directptc.htm
<http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=garden+trap+crop&ieUTF-8&oe=UTF-8
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
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Thanks for this again.
I will take some photos and put them up because it doesnt look like this.
It's much larger. I would say, more like slug damage, but without the tell tale signs.
I'll get on that now and post asap.
GJC
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On Fri, 11 Jun 2010, gjclayton wrote:

here in Chicago, I discovered my butterfly bush and my hostas, are both being eaten by something that also is leaving no other sign other than holes in the leaves. It reminded me of what the holes that Japanese beetles create, but it's too early for Japanese beetles to be doing that much damage. Earwigs maybe? But I don't see any on the plants themselves. I am seeing ants, however.
any ideas?
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    What you describe is stereotypical beetle and grasshopper damage. At your latitude, I don't know how likely that may be this time of year. If terminal bud tissue remains, a seedling may sometimes recover but is likely to be so far behind its bedmates that you're as well off re-planting or replacing the damaged specimens.
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Thanks for all the advice.
I think it is fine for now.
It was aphids and/or green fly eating the seedlings. They have been dispatched...
Not sure whats eating the plants outside but its not descimating them so I'll just keep an eye on it for now.
Thanks again,
G
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I grow chile almost exclusively, and see this in my garden too, but only a few plants out of a couple hundred. What I think is going on for me is the small plants get insects on them and the flickers peck the plants trying to get the insects. I see them in the rows all the time early in the season. As the plants get bigger and woodier the flickers are replaced by robins, who appear to be experts at finding those grotesque translucent grubs with the red heads that are buried shallow around the plants. In the Fall it's various wrens looking for grass seed. (I've seen no unladen swallows...)
sa
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