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Old 06-27-2013, 06:34 PM
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Help with caterpillar larva?

I have a sudden infestation of what appears to be some kind of burrowing caterpillar larva. Here's a picture of the little jerk:



Can anyone ID what pest I've got here, and the most effective way to either get rid or it, or even better prevent them?

Photo taken after I was cleaning what looked like webbing and junk off one of my succulents. This thing above literally erupted from a brown spot in the plant. One of the grossest things I've ever seen, ever.

The good news, I suppose, is alcohol kills them. Good thing I was cleaning the webbing off with it otherwise I might've freaked out harder. The bad news is I have now (hopefully) cleared them off of the succulent it had infested, a basal growth on a Nepenthes, and the newest growth on my Myrmecophila christinae. Which means everything seems to be fair game for them
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:01 PM
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I suggest sending the photo to someone at your local cooperative extension office, or university with an entomology department.

It's a caterpillar, so any control with Bacillus thuringiensis should provide a good organic control (unless they have already burrowed in).

Good luck!
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:01 PM
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Thanks, I like the idea of using bacteria too. Should be safer for the more sensitive plants. I'll send the picture out too, luckily only those three plants had any damage and I caught it before it was too extensive. It just freaked me out because it went from nothing to suddenly infestations across the whole growing area. I figure if I could identify it, I could learn enough about it's life cycle to maybe try and combat it.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:04 PM
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Yeah I did some quick Internet sleuthing, but since it doesn't appear to have a specific host I'm a little stumped.

CattMandu beat me to the punch with recommending Bt.

What you might do is try to rear some to help with identifcation (if you're curious enough). That's what I would do!
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:43 PM
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It looks like a cutworm of some sort. Yuck! I hope you can get rid of 'em. Parasitic wasps might help.
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Last edited by slc; 06-27-2013 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:05 AM
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The BT is great, I always recommend for soil gnats indoors and vine borers outside for squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, anything that grows on vines.
The parasitic wasps are fantastic! Saw them in action last year, and was really creepy, when the wasp larvae started "popping" out of the caterpillars...stopped the life cycle of the pest for sure!
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:34 AM
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Tomato hornworms in our area frequently get the parasitic wasps naturally. The ones I find that don't have wasp eggs get pulled off the tomato plants & squashed.
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1joyceh View Post
...when the wasp larvae started "popping" out of the caterpillars...


I think I'm going to be sick.....ewwwwww.
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1joyceh View Post
The BT is great, I always recommend for soil gnats indoors and vine borers outside for squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, anything that grows on vines.
The parasitic wasps are fantastic! Saw them in action last year, and was really creepy, when the wasp larvae started "popping" out of the caterpillars...stopped the life cycle of the pest for sure!
I'd be nervous to release something parasitic unless it was a native though. I do want to see this happen, sounds pretty gross, lol!

I'll get the BT in the mean time. FL has a ton of pest ID services, I'm going to take Catt Mandu's idea and see if someone at UF Entomology will recognize it and ID it for free, but I can also just send the whole caterpillar to a lab and have an ID for $8, which is pretty neat.
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:37 PM
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If the wasp idea is too creepy, you can use parasitic nematodes. The only problem I can see with using BT is that you are supposed to keep the soil moist. With 'chids that need the medium to dry out, the BT might not be as effective. I'm just going by what I've read. I can't speak from experience.
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Old 06-28-2013, 02:25 PM
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Well, you could try dropping him into a bottle of Tequila.
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:47 PM
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Well, you could try dropping him into a bottle of Tequila.
I was ok with the parasitic wasps. This just actually made me gag a little bit. I'll do it, but only if you'll be the first customer for my fancy new Tequila business.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:33 PM
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I've eaten the worm at the bottom of the Tequila bottle a few times more than I'd like to admit, But! They aren't bad. They taste kinda like, uh, Tequila.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:54 PM
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The parasitic wasps just fly around outside Melody...I see them in the garden at work. If I can, will get some pics this year LOL
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
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I've eaten the worm at the bottom of the Tequila bottle a few times more than I'd like to admit, But! They aren't bad. They taste kinda like, uh, Tequila.
Good, you can taste this one too then! I'll pass after I watched it vomit it's guts out after spraying it with isopropyl alcohol.
Alcohol + this caterpillar = no me gusta

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The parasitic wasps just fly around outside Melody...I see them in the garden at work. If I can, will get some pics this year LOL
Catch some for me, lol, I'll try them out. My only concern was releasing a non-native insect in a state that has a huge problem with non-native species becoming invasive due to how habitable it is for things that would otherwise die with cold. I did subsequently read they're beneficial and are already everywhere, so it should be fine. Also, depending on what kind of caterpillar it is, there is only a certain time of year you'll find the larval stages due to most of these moths/butterflies life cycles, and if that's all I got hit with the plants will most likely be fine until next year. So that's something.
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Old 06-29-2013, 05:40 AM
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LOL...I do not get close enough to catch them, can you imagine getting "injected" by them....AGHHH!!! NOOOOOO!!!!
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:06 AM
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maybe contact JoBeth havent seen her on in a long time but shes knowledgable about things bugs and catapillars are one of her things
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:32 PM
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When I saw this, thought it was concerning swallowtails or monarchs. I just released a black swallowtail a few weeks ago. Sadly, the monarchs seem to be missing. We usually have plenty of monarchs...something awful must have happened.
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Old 07-16-2013, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
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We usually have plenty of monarchs...something awful must have happened.
You can check the Monarch Watch website for all kinds of information on them. We usually see the yellow swallowtail butterflies around here, but no Monarchs. =(
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