caterpillars..will they kill the plants?

tpsychnurse(z8Austin,TX)June 26, 2005

Will my vine survive the ravages of the hungry caterpillars? There must be fifty or more of them on two Incarnata vines. This is my first attempt and they were filled with flowers just a few weeks ago. Thanks.

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turtledon(z6 TN)

The small white cats do little damage but the orange ones will eat a lot of your plants. You can pick them off if you wish (they are not dangerous)and put them on a wild plant or go to the butterfly gardening forum and see if someone wants them. I like the butterflies and the plants so it would be a tough choice for me. Your plants will survive but will not bloom with that many cats. I would suggest that you remove most of them so it keeps blooming.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:17AM
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butterfly15_ca(Sunset15 USDA9b)

If they are orange caterpillars, do not kill them as they will turn into beautiful Gulf Fritillary butterflies!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 4:59PM
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At the link below are some pics of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly and its caterpillars.

I would suggest caution when removing the caterpillars though..they have irritant spines & accumulate cyanogenic glycosides, alkaloids etc which they absorb from the Passiflora leaves. I would wear gloves therefore when removing them. The Gulf ones will only feed on Passiflora-some people grow a sacrificial plant that they put all the caterpillars on.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gulf Fritillary caterpillar

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 5:25PM
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The spines are irritating perhaps to lizards and other predators but, generally speaking, people don't have much problem with picking these little guys up. My Kindergartners have touched them and have had NO ILL consequences. If you don't want to have them eating directly from you vines, you can pick them off and feed them the leaves you select yourself. :) The caterpillars won't kill your plants but will just eat the leaves, then go to find a place to pupate and become a lovely Gulf Fritillary butterfly.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 11:25PM
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Sorry I do not agree that it is a good idea to touch caterpillars. See the very good article below.
The Gulf Fritillary caterpillar looks dangerous from its colouring and has poisonous body fluids & irritant spines.
Caterpillar dermatitis is well known. Repeat contact can induce allergic reactions. Some caterpillars sting so children should be taught not to touch any caterpillar. The adult Gulf Fritillary butterfly is also poisonous-hence few predators.

Also if infestations are bad enough the caterpillars can sometimes kill the plants if they are not well established.

Here is a link that might be useful: Caterpillar Envenomations

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:09AM
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Passionflow, I understand your concernÂthe majority of the problematic caterpillars are those of moths not butterflies. Your article mentions the silk moths (Saturnidae) and in my teaching, I go over the characteristics of various caterpillars and how they should be handled (actually the children learn they are not to handle anything unless they've been given the okay from an adult). I am very careful about teaching my students what is considered safe and what is not. :) Thanks for the link.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 11:07AM
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onafixedincome(z8-9 CA)

Actually, the only caterpillars I've seen do major damage are the 'looper' or 'inchworm' type...they work very hard at eating lots, quickly! They accounted for several attempts at catnip before I got smart and sprayed for one year, let the plant establish, then let em have at it.

From my own childhood experiences, teaching the kids what is okay to handle and what is NOT is probably one of the best things you can do to help them survive to adulthood. :) If it was fuzzy, we always used a piece of straw or small twig to examine it more closely--never ever did you get praise for petting one! LOL! I think Mom woulda killed us! :)

While some things can be dangerous, far better to teach how to make their own judgements--it really helps in later life.

(often described as "Oh hey COOL! Can I do THAT?" :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 8:08AM
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Ok so I am curious, I have this caterpillar Eating all the leaves off my Passion fruit of only 1 yr.. it is getting big but now has NO leaves left.. How can I get rid of these without Killing them..(I love butterflies) i'm in a dilemma??? what OTHER kind of plant will they eat.. any other besides fruit? Please help my Passion fruit has Only produce 3 fruitlings so far last season.. and I want MORE!!! HELP

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 1:36PM
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Hello there,

My suggestion would be to buy another Passiflora, such as P. 'Incense', P. caerulea, or P. incarnata, that grows rapidly and is not used for fruiting. Then simply carefully transport the little munchers to the "host" plant that you are providing for them. This is basically just iterating what Myles said above about having a "sacrificial" plant for them to feed off of.

By the way, if Myles said "don't touch them with your hands", I would suggest you listen to him. I suspect he has more experience with them than most people. Thin, un-powdered vinyl or poly gloves are quite cheap in boxes of 100 on Amazon and elsewhere.

Obviously, this will take some diligence on your part to keep up on it, but I think it should be well worth the effort.

Happy gardening!
Eric Wortman

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 2:08PM
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ok i dont wanna sound cold but my kid tried to get one of these Gulf Fritillary cause he said it looked like a gummy worm so they have to go. then my dog got interested well i dont want a poisoned kid or dog. what poisons would work?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:22AM
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I've heard that BT works.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:29AM
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