What is eating my lemon balm? (some kind of caterpillar)

rivera30067(7b)May 7, 2009

Something has been eating away at my lemon balm plant. I've noticed it over the past few days. Now, it just looks pathetic. I couldn't find anything earlier today, so I thought it was a rabbit. I went outside a bit ago to bring the balm in to protect it and noticed two long, brownish caterpillar-type things having from the bottom of two of the leaves. One was almost as long as my pinkie and skinny. The funny thing is they were hanging straight down with their mouths attached to the leaves of my lemon balm!!!! Well, of course, I grabbed the suckers and threw them off my deck, but what are they?

What can I put on the lemon balm to keep those things away? I heard that dish soap can be harmful. Can I get an insecticide at Home Depot and can I still use the leaves?

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Most caterpillars in that posture are about to spin their web to make caccoons. Without picture no way to identify. Now that you have found the culperates no need for insecticide. Just keep watch for more worms and remove them when found.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 11:24PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

A form of Bt will usually kill caterpillers and other leaf eating worms. Also slugs like tender greens if the area is damp. They come out at night when its cooler and damp. I had problems with chewed holes in the frut trees leeves. I sprayed BT a few days ago and its slowed down the chewing. will do it again soon as we had lots of heavy rain. They tend to drop down from trees above them and dangle until the wind moves them to a nice green spot below.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 5:43AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Though it would be helpful to see an image of your caterpillars, they sound like they might belong to the geometrid family, also called spanworms and inchworms (sometimes).

Please note that Bt-k (Bacillus thuringiensis-kurstaki) is only effective if the caterpillars are very young. From the size of yours, I'd not even try with it. Bt-k works only on caterpillers and no other kind of leaf-eating insect.

Keep up with the hand removal. It's your best bet.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:34AM
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Well I didn't see anymore of those pesky boogers, but I decided to spray it with some organic spray from Home Depot made for Fruit and Vegetable plants. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

I also noticed that black ants (Sugar ants?) are crawling all over my mint, so I sprayed it too :P Gosh, did they disappear in a hurry like :P

I've just really gotten back into gardening, so I guess I'm learning all about these pesky little insects. A friend of mine told me to sprinkle red pepper around the plants and that it would keep the ants away. :)

I want to get a stevia plant, so I guess I'd better do that :P

On the bright side, will tending my growing garden, I had the opportunity to watch a Great Horned Owl mosey about my backyard with a little bird pestering him nearby :P And a little hare, who didn't see me, made his way onto my deck. Only when I moved and made a noise did he hop away. :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 1:42AM
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