Black caterpillars

north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)July 17, 2005

I hope someone can enlighten me as to what I'm dealing with here. I've been finding many plants falling victim to a black fuzzy caterpillar. I've never had this type of infestation before. So far I've had it on my gazanias and a clump of 'Silver Brocade' Artemesia. But it doesn't seem to be selective as other plants in the border are affected. At first I just noticed the leaves folding up and containing a big black mass of excrement. On closer inspection I found the caterpillar. So far I've hand picked and squished followed by an overall spray of BTK. Any ideas about what this creature is? Gazanias are turning out to not being a great choice for me. Last year they were the chosen food for the rabbit, and this year the gross caterpillar. Also they don't open on cloudy days, so I shouldn't have given them such a prominent location! Marie

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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Marie, I noticed them today too. They are making lace out of my Hollyhocks, that's pretty well the only plant they are eating so far. Wish I knew what they were too, never had this pest before.

Sharon

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 8:36PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

Can you post a picture?

Shauna

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 8:39PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

It wouldn't be forest tent caterpillars would it? The are kinda blue/black/grey with white dots. And they're about 2-3" long.

Here is a link that might be useful: Forest Tent Caterpillars

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 11:25PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Remember all those Painted Lady Butterflies we all noticed early June, I have a funny feeling these might be the caterpillars... Artemisia and Hollyhocks are some host plants.
I'll take a photo tomorrow to verify ;)

Sharon

Here is a link that might be useful: Painted Lady Caterpillar

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 12:35AM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

I found a butterfly just emerging from a chrysalis on Saturday. It is right near my bur oak tree, which apparently, is one of the foodsources for this butterfly. For some reason, the picture won't upload to photobucket. I even reduced it down and no go. Anyway, does the caterpillar look like the ones in this link? I haven't found any caterpillars, yet, but I will look tomorrow.

Shauna

Here is a link that might be useful: Mourningcloak butterfly

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:22AM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

You are probably right, Sharon. The Mourningcloak caterpillar tends to attack more shrubs and tree species. Sounds like the Painted Ladies tend to go toward the ornamentals like your hollyhocks and gazanias, etc. And we certainly had a high number of painted ladies this year.

Shauna

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:35AM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

Well now I feel bad about killing what may have been the painted lady caterpillar. I guess I should have posted first and killed later. I didn't even think about such an ugly thing being anything desirable. Hopefully a few missed my killing spree. But I've seen lots of painted lady butterflies in past years and have never seen so much damage on such a variety of plants. Marie

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:59AM
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catstookover(1bCanada)

I have them too-all over my teddy bear sunflowers, hollyhocks and globe thistle! I sprayed some insecticide before knowing what they were but actually it didn't seem to do much harm to them anyway. Hopefully they won't affect the plants blooming.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:54PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

For sure, the caterpillars that are eating my Hollyhocks are Painted Ladies.....oh well, they're just Hollyhocks, I'm not too worried about the damaged they are causing.

Vanessa cardui Painted Lady Caterpiller/Larva
Notice the silk webbing and trap fecal pellets. Such a ugly looking creature, but will soon transform to a beautiful butterfly.

Sharon

Here is a link that might be useful: Vanessa cardui

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 12:52AM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

Thanks Sharon for posting the picture and the link. That definitely looks like what I had also. Another example of how helpful this forum is. I will be more careful in the future about what I destroy. Marie

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 8:18AM
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