Caterpillars eating my hostas

samnsarahMay 6, 2012

There has been something munching on my hostas. I assumed the culprits were slugs, so at midnight a couple of days ago I went out with a flashlight to catch them in the act. There was not a single slug in sight, but I did find something else. I found this caterpillar eating holes in my hostas. The Blue Angels and Abiqua Drinking Gourds have been hit the hardest. Below is a photo of one of these hungry little devils. We have had lots of moths and butterflies in South Central Kansas, and as a result lots of caterpillars. Is anyone able to identify this particular type of caterpillar and how do I treat them before they become an infestation? They are not on any of my other plants except the hostas. Below is a link to the photo.

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

If it's a lepitoptera, it doesn't matter which one. Use BT.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:36PM
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Got out my Peterson Caterpillar guide, and judging by the picture, what you have is a variegated cutworm. It fooled me for a minute, because it looks like braided brown rope (line to the sailors amongst us).

But definitely BT the sucker.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Kill it!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 12:37AM
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What is BT? Is that a chemical spray? There haven't been a lot of these caterpillars. I have picked off and squished three of them so far. I didn't see any more than that. I am going out each night with a flashlight to look for them, since night time seems to be feeding time for these guys.
Other than the holes and missing edges on some of the leaves, my hostas seem to still be doing fine. I'll keep looking for the worms though.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:50AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I'm probably mispelling it, but it's Bacillus thuringiensis. It's safe for an organic garden. It's caterpillar specific. The powder form I've bought is called dipel. It won't wash off blue hosta. So, if you use it you're stuck with it for the year. It's easy, though. You can also get it in a liquid that you use on a hose end sprayer. They did not have it at the big box stores. I had to go to a nursery.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:26AM
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I use plain ole Sevin dust on the leaf rollers which attack my canna lilies. Applied early as they begin growing, it seems to insure they grow all season long without further leaf roller problems.

This year, I was preoccupied with hosta anf forgot the lovely Phasion and Tropicana cannas, until now they are basically a mess. However, new leaves are emerging without blemish. A dusting of Sevin did the trick there. But it can also leave permanent signs on the hosta leaves, if you sprinkle it on them. I tried that on a couple of hosta when the sawfly larvae were messing with them, and quickly stopped. Now I use the Bayer spray with Magic in it to control those tiny worms, and reapply it whenever I see a fly hovering around a plant.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:51AM
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I absolutely despise cutworms and caterpillars because of the huge damage they can do in such a short time. Usually it's easy to tell their work apart from slugs, and when I see it, I can usually catch the thing in the act. Got one today looking at some shredded leaves.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:35PM
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