small green caterpillar infestation!

newpassion2007August 27, 2007

I need help! I have had no bug problems, as I spray regularly. But 3 days ago I had a large, bushy, beautiful coleus in a pot on my patio and today it is gone!. it was literally eaten alive in only 3 days! The culprit is a very small light green, what appears to be a caterpillar. The largest one I've found is 1 cm long and as thin as a pencil lead. It looks like there might be a thin white line going down its back, but it is so small, it's hard to see. I have found nothing online that looks like it. The closest I've come is the "silver Y moth", but even those look a little bigger and are suppose to be in Europe, Asia and North Africa. I found 2 more today on another coleus. All info I've found indicates their only parasite problem to be meal worms, white flies and one other.

Any ideas? Please help.

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By spraying regularly with a broad spectrum poison you have killed off the beneficial insects that could help control the pests. What you have is the larva of one of any number of moths and the single best way to have it identified is at your local UCAL USDA Cooperative Extension Service office. Put one of the wee buggers in a sealable plastic bag and take it in.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 8:02AM
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It may not even be a caterpillar. Rose slugs are a not so rare event on coleus and if it is a sawfly larvae, Bt is not effective.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 9:16AM
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Thank you both. I am so new at this, what is Bt?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 11:39AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Honestly and truly, proper identification is important if you intend to apply Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis-kurstaki). Bt will not control these critters if they are sawfly larvae and frankly, by the time you sprayed this method of biological control on your one plant and waited for it to work, you could have hand picked these caterpillars off about a million times, lol!

Hand removal remains the fastest and most effective method of caterpillar control for just one plant....or a small garden.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 12:44PM
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I thank u all for your help. The first plant infested was already to late to save by the time I saw these pests. They are nocturnal and only on the 3rd day did I look at night, I drowned that plant, bugs and all in a bucket of water and bleach! There were sooooooo many of them. found 2 more on another plant, took in for i.d and they were green web worms, was advised to use Bt. Evidently in my area ( East County of San Diego) there is an infestation of these pests right now.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 12:42AM
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