Damage is already done. What now?

Geeklet42(7)July 29, 2013

I have a potted Passiflora incarnatum on my patio. I came home today to find it completely defoliated and (to my new-to-such-things-eyes) swarming with caterpillars. (We counted 15 at the time.) Today there are fewer and they don't seem to be eating stems, but there's a lot of leafless vine left on the trellis.

Since the damage is already done, I'll probably leave them be to do their butterfly thing and find a good pesticide or something once the plant starts growing again to prevent round 2.

Questions, though:

1) Will the caterpillars eat the stems, and/or will they eat them down to the root? If they will, should I remove them now?
2) What would have prevented this?
3) Would a pesticide affect the plant's ability to grow back?
4) Should I leave the vines on the trellis and hope they grow new leaves, or cut it back to the ground and let the whole thing grow back?
5) Will it grow back before next spring or is it pretty well done for this year?

I understand that the butterflies are pretty and help pollinate other plants, but I value the greenery on my patio and the gorgeous flowers I was seeing on this plant more. My other plants are mostly succulents, so I don't think the butterflies will help them much, anyway. This was my first non-succulent plant to flourish, so I really hope to get it green and vibrant again.

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kayjones(Mo6b)

If you plant Passiflora vines, which is food for butterfly caterpillars, they WILL eat all the leaves. The vines will leaf out again. They won't eat the stems - just the leaves.

I wouldn't do anything to prevent this - that's why I grow them.

The pesticide won't affect the plant's ability to grow back, but one shouldn't use pesticides unless there is no other choice.

I would leave the vines on the trellis and they will grow new leaves.

In your zone, it will leaf out again this year.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 5:53PM
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nature_freak

He is correct, why worry when for every leaf eaten ten more sprout out. Passiflora is real tough, let the butterfly larva have a feast. As it is winter is near and bye bye all leaves.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:05AM
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leila hamaya(8 nor cal)

soapy water spray could help.
i would use good natural soap, but some people will use any. and dilute it with lots of water.

this works on other kinds of bugs as well.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 4:32PM
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bkay2000

Unfortunately, they will and do kill the varieties that they really like. They will kill Constance Elliott at my house. They'll eat all the leaves, all the small stems and all the green off the larger stems. Nearby, is a full, leafy, purple passionflower. You can spray if you want to. You can identify your pest. Go to your local independent nursery and tell them you have butterfly caterpillars. They'll tell you what and how to spray it. BT is considered an organic spray, but I don't think it works very well. Picking them off works pretty well.

If you watch for them and pick off the early ones, you won't have as much trouble. If you let a generation of butterflies grow, they'll come right back to your passionflower to lay their eggs. So, just as your passionflower is making a recovery and leafing out again, they'll be back to strip it again.

My other passionflower doesn't attract enough butterflies to matter (some kind of maypop hybrid - lost the tag).

Strange.....

bk

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 8:51PM
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