what. is. this.

sugi_c(9a)March 11, 2013

I know I have no business playing with dirt if I can't handle the appearance of some bugs.

But I hate bugs. I hate crawling or flying or buzzing bugs.

So....while I try to maintain calm....what the hell is this!?!!

Caterpillar? What kind of caterpillar looks like this!?!

I thought I saw some kind of worm head peek out of one of my blueberry flowers last night -- but upon taking a light to it, I couldn't find it anywhere. Naturally, today, I've been obsessing over that plant envisioning the blueberry maggot or any other creepy crawler that would ruin my otherwise awesome plant.

Next to that container is this little bowl of succulents. And I almost missed it but peripherally caught something moving.

And then I saw this crawler. Blech.

Closeup, when I caught it trying to burrow into the gritty mix and tossed some bark (with IT on the bark) into a plastic container:

What is this?
And what is it eating?
Is it killing what it's eating?
How did it get to the second floor?
And how do I make it go away forever?

-Grace, who is now itchy allllllllllllllll over

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can i suggest artificial flowers..

silk plants ...

get a grip ..

one bug.. grab it gently.. and flick it into mid air.. and let it descend to its death .....

who cares what it is ... we will worry about what it is.. when there are 100 of them .... and you are sedated...


ps: i wonder what she will respond after she wakes from passing out.. at the suggestion that she touch it ... lol

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 6:33PM
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I'll have you know I did pick it up (on some bark). I wasn't going to leave it on the poor plant no matter what it was. Unless it looked like a cockroach...I'd have probably just thrown the whole pot overboard. And I'm not sure why I would wait until I have hundreds...

One other thing for those of you who might know what this is:

Further examining the plant, I noticed three sets of leaves were sort of "glued" together. I'm not sure if this is clearly visible in the photo.

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

It's the very plant that I found the bug on. Is this related? Is it the thing's cocoon? I'm a bit leery to even pry it open, should thousands of them fall out or something, haha....I am happy to chuck the whole plant if need be. I can easily pluck this out. There also appears to be some "damage" on the one leaf where you can see it looks...rubbed off, for lack of a better description.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:43PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are loads of caterpillars that look like that, including many that stitch foliage together with webbing.

C'mon....you know how they end up on plants on your upper story! Have you seen any moths or butterflies flitting around? :-)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Where in the United States are you? That is essential information that can help identify what you might have. It is the larva of something, a moth, butterfly, something. There are some of these that coud be laying eggs in Florida and others in California, and some others in other places now, but none I know of active from Tennessee north.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sugi doesn't really need to know the exact identification of this caterpillar, kimmsr. If she were growing a crop of a particular plant that was being threatened....yes. She resides in a tropical location, by the way.

Sugi, your plant is Kalanchoe tomentosa, a pretty common house plant in temperate climates. I'm sure that it thrives outdoors all year there.

Many caterpillars are generalists...meaning that they don't seek out a particular plant or family of plants on which to lay their eggs. There are numerous "little green caterpillars "....who knows how many. I suggest that you simply remove the evidence.

If you pry open those adhered leaves, you will find a pupating caterpillar (remember : egg, larvae, pupae, adult) OR the sleeping quarters (nesting site) .

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:10AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i was chuckling last night about this..

either someone above you.. flicked it off his balcony.. lol

or a bird lost its lunch ...


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Rhizo -- refer to the statement of my hating all things that fly, flutter, squirm or pulsate to move, lol. If I spot a bird, I go inside; if I spot a butterfly (and worse, moths!), I run inside. And if I see a bee, I freeze, then scream, then run inside, lol. So no, I haven't seen any butterflies this year. I do have two pigeons I absolutely detest that decided to sleep nightly on the ledge adjacent to one of my balconies. I went out there two times in the beginning only to have them freak out, me drop everything and scream bloody murder in the middle of the night running in. My BF commented, "My God, I thought you saw Ted Bundy on the balcony!" Now, that balcony could be on fire and I won't set foot out there if it's dark.

Like I said, homey don't do bugs. Or birds.

And I snipped off the leaves. Your description was not particularly conducive to my opening it either, rhino, lol. First thing I did this morning was take scissors out there and snip it right off, throw it in the trash and then take the trash out to the chute haha.

Kimm, I live right below San Francisco. It has been rather warm and nice lately.....

Someone else suggested cabbage worm. I googled it, but I'm finding that I think this thing looks like everything I look up. But cabbage worm was the most similar.

I didn't see any new worms today, and I know you all now know I was out there searching every single leaf there is, lol. And I'm still not convinced I didn't see a minuscule worm head in one of my blueberry blossoms. Which still has me convinced I will end up with blueberry maggots -- even the name makes me shudder!!!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:36AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cabbage worms are not likely to be found on that particular plant. Like I said...there are countless species of green caterpillars.

Sorry, can't help you with all of your assorted phobias. Perhaps your best recourse is to remove all plants entirely. I'd not even replace them with fake stuff because the birds might be interested.

How do you expect your blueberries to be pollinated?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:59AM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

Sugi_G -- are you really Sheldon Cooper using an assumed identity? LOLOL

Now, IF your worm is a caterpillar (it looks like one of many that are similar, but some other NON-butterfly/moth larvae resemble caterpillars, too), let me be the first to give you actual advice on how to protect your plants (aside from flicking the critter off the leaf).

Buy some Bacillus thuringiensis, which is sold under various trade names at garden centers and online and comes both in liquid and powder form. It is not a chemical, but a biological control that attacks only leaf-eating caterpillars.
Oh--and the reason Ken suggested you wait until there are hundreds is because a few errant insects do not a problem make. Good luck! (--with the creepy-crawly as well as your various phobiae). :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: More info about Bt

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:06AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Gardening is a great way to begin to overcome these types of fears. The tiny creeping and flying critters all have a job to do and if you can surrender to your curiosity, learn a bit, break through some of the mystery, you can become less fearful. You probably realize your fears are irrational, but that doesn't make them any less real. You may be able to at least moderate your response even if you can't fully overcome the fear. The mysterious is almost always more scary than the known, so a little info can go a long way in helping to remain more calm. If your BF doesn't share your fears, his calmness in the face of these things should be helpful. ...or is he just busy cracking up? Mine does, but in good-natured sympathy.

When you see a new critter, post it here so people can help you determine what it is, and what it does. When confronted with something like this little caterpillar that can't hurt you, remind yourself of that fact after you calm down. It can't fly or jump, so you can look at it without fear of such. It is healthy to fear touching caterpillars because some of them have little barbs or hairs that can cause a sting. But none of them can jump or otherwise leave the plant without slowly crawling, as far as I know. Snipping the leaf it is on is a good way to remove it without touching it, but there's no need to go overboard in snipping more of the plant than that.

Even seasoned gardeners who aren't afraid of a critter can be surprised by the sudden appearance of the critter, and it's perfectly fine to scream!

When I first moved here, I assure you the "palmetto bugs" (which any Yankee can clearly see are giant cockroaches!) freaked me OUT! Like I wanted to move the first time I saw one in the house. But I learned more about what they do, and realized they are just lost when they get in the house. They're not trying to get me, and won't hurt me. It's taken 6 years, but I've stopped freaking out and if I'm really tired, I don't even try to kill them sometimes. In an older house like this, with all of its' cracks and crevices, they're just a fact of life - especially if I insist on making beds around the house and putting lots of decomposing organic matter on them. It is possible to desensitize yourself, but takes time. I'm still irrationally scared of some kinds of spiders, but I wouldn't be able to live and especially garden here if I couldn't get used to some of the most common bugs.

To get you started, you can be happy that this caterpillar isn't a danger to the health of your plants, besides munching on leaves, the way spider mites, aphids, scale, white flies, or thrips would be.

Since you fear blueberry maggots, which is an awful name no doubt, knowing at least what they do, where they are, and what they look like will give you the info you need to determine if you see any. This link from NCSU has pictures of all 3 stages of its' life.

The reason these bugs are referred to this...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Haha...okay, you guys think I'm insane. I was going to claim it's not to the phobia level but meh -- it's good enough in that I will go to serious lengths to avoid it. Strangely, ants and spiders (other than huge hairy ones) don't freak me out, but if I saw a Palmetto bug, which I just googled, Purple -- I wouldn't run; I'd probably just collapse, lol.

The caterpillar, like I mentioned, I put into a plastic box and it had a couple pieces of bark (with which it traveled from pot to box). Even gave it some lettuce that night, haha -- and when the BF got home, I made him go down and release it to the complex bushes ("with the lettuce" I told him haha). It was still alive -- and I understand the benefits of butterflies, but I just don't like things crawling on my plants.

Thanks for the blueberry maggot link, Purple. (And for trying to make me feel better!) Rest assured, I viewed and read that site the night I thought I spotted a worm head peeking out. I grabbed the camera and ran back out only to not be able to figure out which bloom it was in....and not entirely positive it was a worm head as it was nighttime and the balcony light was dim. I just thought I saw something move when I was sitting next to the blueberry plant....and peering in, it almost looked like the head of this caterpillar thingie I found the next day but it was inside the blossom.
But Purple, the horrid name aside, what's most disturbing is the reports of all these folks finding worms inside their berries. For the love of God.....you know I will be slicing up all berries before eating them now lol! I should just stop reading.

Weedlady, thank you for the BT information! To my knowledge it is just one that I found and an exhaustive examination has uncovered no more wormy critters or suspect homes. But if I find more, or hundreds -- I'll be sure to have the BF put BT on basically everything lol. Saved the link!

Okay, I meant to write this to make myself sound less nuts but clearly, that is not going as intended. :-/

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yeah, if I had a penny for every time I was misunderstood in writing... I'd buy you a nice, caterpillar-eating spider of course! "They" think I'm crazy too, no big deal as far as I can tell, at last not to me! But yeah, if I can stop freaking out when a palmetto bug is walking up the wall, I have faith that you can make progress with your reactions to critter-sightings. Most people have at least a few irrational fears, no biggie, but bugs are kind of unavoidable when gardening.

Spiders and ants are mentioned as predators of BMs, so that probably made you happy to read. And now we know that a caterpillar on the leaves is definitely not a BM. This makes me want to cook blueberries so if I do eat one of these, at least it's dead first. Love the stuff I learn via GW that I didn't even know I wanted to know.

Taking a pic is the perfect thing to do because your eyes can see things that are not there, or not see things that are. Never heard of skinks until I found one in the yard a few years ago. I showed DH the pic of the "baby snake" and asked in a panic, "Are we infested with baby rattlesnakes?" I just knew we were. He squinted at my fuzzy pic, laughed and asked me if I had seen any rattlesnakes with legs. Why would he want to know that? Because he could clearly see the skinks' legs in the pic, but being convinced it was a snake, I didn't until he said that. Skinks are perfectly harmless little critters that hang around just under the surface eating little bugs, a desired garden visitor. I've seen a lot of freaky new bugs & critters since moving to AL, but that's my fav story so far.

Now that you know it can happen, and if you want to inspect like that, you should be able to see if eggs of some kind are laid on plants (which are not all from bad bugs, by the way, some can be from bugs that are predators of plant pests.) It sounds like you'd want to inspect the developing fruit often for signs of BM eggs. With a small amount of plants, it may be possible to use some kind of netting to prevent the adults from accessing the developing fruit.

I googled "cabbage moth egg" and got pics of all sorts of eggs. They're not all cabbage moth eggs, but most bug eggs are similar, a little raised dot, just different colors. If you catch anything in that state instead of waiting for hatching, that would be the most proactive and effective, and the least squirmy. Moths are usually nocturnal, so it would be unlikely that you'd notice their visits. Your relocation of this caterpillar says to me you're not really as freaked out as you described above.

And even when you WANT to see a particular critter, it can still freak you out. For years, I'm trying to attract hummingbirds without feeders and finally last summer one kept coming by my front porch for the few blooms there, and to keep checking the reddish leaves. Every single time I heard that buzzing, I jumped/yelped, sure it's one of those giant wood-eating bees...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 5:01PM
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