Half inch long clearish green caterpillars are skeletonizing the leaves on
my Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutablis) here in hot, humid, south
Mississippi. I've had this plant for years and have never seen these
critters before. I can't find any other insects on or around the plant that
could be the adult version of these larvae. What are they and will BT work
on them? There are too many and the tree is too large to hand pick them
all. Where might they strike after they polish off this plant? Thanks for
suggestions and advice!
If it's not killing your plant then leave it, your plant will recover
when the critter's gone. If it is killing your plant you can also
transplant a few of the caterpillar(s) to another host plant then Bt
the rest. You can also capture it, place in a glass aquarium and feed
it fresh leaves daily, caterpillars are wonderful learning experiences
for kids. Yours might be a gray hairstreak butterfly:
Other butterfly caterpillars that eat mallow are painted lady (Vanessa
cardui) and checkered skipper (Pyrgus communis). If you want to learn
more do a search to images of their caterpillars. I hope this helps.
They do sort of sound like the larvae for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly but
I don't ever remember seeing one of those around here. At this point more
than half of the leaves are skeletonized, and the ones that are still
healthy are so high I cannot reach them, and naturally this is where the
worms are now. I don't think I can help it now- it will either die or come
back next year.
I think I'll bring a few inside and put into the aquarium we have set up for
exactly this purpose. That way I may at least learn what to watch for next
year. This year we have hatched a Luna Moth and a Cecropia Moth and
released them. Maybe thse will be butterflies!
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