bug eating my new orange tree leaves!

jrm111April 26, 2010

Happened to be looking at the leaves tonight and saw this (picture at link)...looks like it has only eaten part of this leave, didn't see others.

What is it? Should I do something about this half eaten leave and about the potential for more of the invaders?


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It's an "orange dog," the caterpillar of the giant swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes). If you just have a few, you can pluck them off and crush them. Or you could spray the tree with Dipel or Thuricide or some other material containing Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). But usually there are just a few, so you can pick them off by hand. Or on a large tree, leave them to mature, and you'll have more butterflies in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'll add that it's a BABY caterpillar! Just wait until you see what they grow up to be, lol! Of course, the bigger they are allowed to become, the more they will eat.

These caterpillars, though disguised exceedingly well as a big gooey bird dropping, are a favorite treat of predatory animals (including wasps). I've not noticed that birds ignore them while they are still caterpillars...I guess that disguise works too well. However, once they pupate, birds really go after the chrysalises.

I agree with Malcolm. Remove these insects by hand. They don't sting. And look for single, round, pearl-like eggs deposited on the upper side of leaves. They can be removed, too.

I grow seedling citrus in containers strictly for the pleasure of watching the life cycle of the Giant Swallowtails. The gorgeous adults are plentiful in a blooming annual and perennial garden where they will nectar upon a wide range of flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Just click for some neat pictures

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 5:16AM
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Rhizzo, absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing and those nice pictures.I have never seen a butterfly like that..


    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 8:57AM
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can't see any bugs...leave are eaten, blossoms falling off, ends of limbs dieing.
two different orange tree varieties but not my tangerine tree.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 9:43AM
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andrewofthelemon(7b Central Arkansas)

Wow, my citrus have been outside for a while. I had a a butterfly flying aound my yard today... my orange tree has 2 nibbled leaves...that butterfly looks very much like the one in that picture......

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:46PM
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