Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Caterpillars eating succulents

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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 5, 2015 8:20 AM CST
If you have plants outside in the southeast, time to start inspecting for armyworm damage. I've found them eating various plants the past few yrs. I've seen this caterpillar eating MANY diff kinds of plants, both potted tropical succulents and temperate yard plants. Today it was Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

Armyworms may be in other areas, I didn't research that. And not 100% sure of the ID of armyworm. A search for butterflies that would use Kalanchoe as host turned up no results, and it looks like armyworm, but there could be another one that looks similar enough to fool me. Help welcome if wrong!
Thumb of 2015-06-05/purpleinopp/a6deb7

Please try to ID caterpillars before destroying. Under the umbrella of cacti/succulents, I'm not familiar with any "real butterflies" that would use any of these plants as host for caterpillars, but it's probably possible. If one does happen to find a butterfly caterpillar munching on a plant one is not willing to donate to being a meal, there's probably another ground plant nearby to which it could be moved. Any info about temperate butterflies that might use tropical succulents as hosts would also be much appreciated!


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Name: Deborah Pryor
Orangeburg, SC Zone 8a (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
Jun 5, 2015 12:31 PM CST
Thanks for the warning about the armyworm. I've really never heard of it. I'm new to succulents and truthfully outdoor gardening and need all the advise I can get to keep my plants thriving. I just purchased/rescued 3 of those kalanchoes. WM had them marked down; still in its wrapper and sleeve. They had watered them and the plants were swimming in it. Most of the blooms had already faded, but I could tell what color they were. I got one each of the orange, light red and purple ones. When I repotted them, the plants were healthy and in groups of 3. I just added fresh well draining soil and placed them back in the same pot, but spaced further apart. When my sister and girlfriends come by, I'll have to share them. Ahh, Tiffany, do I want to know what those black blobs are on your plant?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jun 5, 2015 1:26 PM CST
So far, no caterpillars from butterflies or moths attacks my succulents. But, my greatest enemy were the snails..sneaky monsters! They used to favor soft leaved new growth of my other regular plants but this past Fall and Winter, they have learned to attack my euphorbias, plumerias and other smaller succulents. If not for the cacti's spines pretty sure they would have devoured it too. Thankfully these succulents are recovering now slowly and being dry weather, the slimy monsters are away.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Jun 5, 2015 2:59 PM CST
Deborah, that's how I noticed this, that's caterpillar poo. Sad So sweet of you to share such fun plants!

I didn't know snails could live where you are, Tarev! Good luck & TY for the info!
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
🍀👒☀🍄🍍🌱🌿🌴🎄👣🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻🌽🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌺🌸🌼🌹🌳🌲
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Deborah Pryor
Orangeburg, SC Zone 8a (Zone 8a)
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!
Charter ATP Member Amaryllis Region: United States of America Tropicals Seed Starter Plumerias
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises Hummingbirder Echinacea
Deebie
Jun 5, 2015 4:10 PM CST
Yuck, that's what I thought. I've got a jungle in my back growing area, as I've been finding good bargains on plants. I've got to get some combo pots put together. With our wet climate, I have to get my plants out of that peaty mush immediately. And try not to forget to water a small pot. It will become hard as a brick. Grumbling I need an extra pair of hands. It's hard when you garden alone. Sighing!
Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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karmatree
Jun 7, 2015 11:51 AM CST
Tiffany, thanks for asking people to ID their caterpillars and consider NOT killing them. Smiling I have some "sacrifice" plants that I relocate caterpillars to if they are on something I can't bear to see chewed on.

My passion flower vine is covered in Gulf Fritillary caterpillars, and they are devouring it. But it comes back even stronger after they leave. Same with the milkweed and the monarch caterpillars.

There may be some symbiotic thing going on there, possibly!
"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy." - Rumer Godden

Plantomaniac08
Jun 7, 2015 1:59 PM CST
I agree

I think too many insects die because people deem them pests, but they make the world go 'round.

It's just unfortunate they choose to live in our homes with us or eat our plants, but with the butterly population seemingly in decline, relocation is better than killing (well, even if the butterfly population wasn't in decline). I remember seeing Monarchs and Swallowtails all over the place as a kid, nowadays, any butterfly is a rare sight. Crying

Hubby has a friend who killed an Orb weaver spider and posts about it on Facebook. He got quite the comments after asking what it was, that it was a harmless spider and he should have left it alone. His response? "Well, it didn't have to make a web on my fence." Blinking Grumbling

I'm the type of person who leaves the spiders alone in our apartment, until they get too large for comfort and they're relocated outside. Living with my folks, if I spotted a snake, relocated it as well. I can't say the same for others I know, they'd kill a Garter snake on sight. Angry

Planto
Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Not all those who wander are lost.
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karmatree
Jun 8, 2015 6:02 AM CST
It is good to hear about your practices, Planto. I always find with patience, many insects will be regulated by other insects in my garden. It's difficult to watch aphids suck on tender plants, but with patience, you get to see the ladybugs come and devour them. Then you get to see the ladybug larva crawling around everywhere. Then you see MORE ladybugs.

No one should EVER kill a snake. They are vital to environmental balance. It is not the snake's fault that someone fears it, and it shouldn't have to die because of someone's irrational fear.
"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy." - Rumer Godden

Plantomaniac08
Jun 8, 2015 11:07 AM CST
I agree

My Mother-in-law had a patch of Rudbeckia in her yard COVERED (I've never seen so many in my life) with aphids. She said the ladybugs had come and gone (I'm sure they were stuffed), but I'm sure they left their offspring behind. Everything has a purpose, even if we see it as a pest. Where there's a pest, there's a predator to eat them (as you said)!

It is a shame some people don't feel they can live harmoniously with insects/creatures... I don't remember what the current reason behind the honey bee population decline is, but I swear I read at some point it was due to humans intervening somehow. We have a tendency to do more harm than good. Sighing!

Planto

Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Not all those who wander are lost.
Bromeliad Cactus and Succulents Orchids Foliage Fan Organic Gardener Plant and/or Seed Trader
Region: Florida Tropicals Xeriscape
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karmatree
Jun 9, 2015 6:25 AM CST
We are the prime suspect in many of the factors behind the honeybee decline. All we can do is try to feed them responsibly in our own little slices of organic, pesticide free gardens!

Thumb of 2015-06-09/karmatree/796d05

"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy." - Rumer Godden

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