The Q&A Archives: What Are Those Little Green Caterpillars?

Question: What are those little green caterpillars that are rolling themselves up in the leaves of my shrubs and plants. They are not particular to one plant. They are quite small. I have tried an insectisidal soap but so far that does not work. They are munching on the leaves of the shrubs and plants and the leaves all stick together. What can I use to get rid of them?

Chris Winter

Answer: Leafrollers are common pests and they knit leaves together with webbing, just as you've described. At this stage I'd recommend handpicking affected leaves and destroying them (along with the caterpillars). If it becomes a problem year after year you can spray trees and shrubs with horticultural oil in January and February before the buds open. Oil will suffocate the egg masses, and prevent a new generation from hatching. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is effective against caterpillars and safe to use on your plants, if you opt to use a pesticide.

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