Ask a Question forum: Caterpillars? Eating everything

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Name: Cindy
Houston Tx
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CindyHTx
May 4, 2016 9:52 AM CST
These just showed up by the hundreds eating everything. What to do or not to do.
Thumb of 2016-05-04/CindyHTx/282ee7

Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 4, 2016 10:54 AM CST
Try my favorite: Azamax. Gene
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 4, 2016 11:07 AM CST
They look like butterfly caterpillars to me! Please don't kill them.

@mellielong ??
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
May 4, 2016 11:07 AM CST
I would identify them before killing them.

Are they really eating EVERYTHING??
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
May 4, 2016 11:18 AM CST
I agree, try to identify them first. Just because they enroach on what we believe to be "ours" is no reason to kill them.
central Illinois
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jmorth
May 4, 2016 11:33 AM CST
Kind of looks like a Monarch.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
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mellielong
May 4, 2016 1:26 PM CST
Look like Black Swallowtails. Are they eating dill, fennel, rue, or parsley? If so, you've got butterflies! Oh no! My advice is to go to the grocery store, buy some of those Gladware thingies, get some organic parsley to feed them, raise them indoors, and watch them become butterflies! I am biased, however.

Also, people should really identify what they have before resorting to pesticides. Thanks for inquiring about what they were before acting.
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Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
May 4, 2016 1:53 PM CST
@mellielong,I'm so glad to see this thread. Too many times people will jump and grab the insecticide, or kill them all without knowing what they are. It's so nice to know that there are knowledgeable people here willing to help and share.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 4, 2016 2:12 PM CST
Looks to me like they've been dining on a passionvine or something else with those curly tendrils. But I agree they look a lot like Black Swallowtails to me.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Cindy
Houston Tx
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CindyHTx
May 4, 2016 3:14 PM CST
Cool! We don't want to kill them if they're good! They've decimated this vine that looks like some kind of grape (never bore fruit or flowers and now I can't show you a photo since they ate it all) and they are eating some pepper vines (not bell pepper plants) too but not as aggressively yet. They are hanging out on these elephant ear plants but not eating them. Hasn't touched anything in the garden or the milk weed we have. They do seem to be leaving thin silk lines behind them but not actually making any webs Thank you all for the feedback, it is so appreciated. Thank You!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 4, 2016 3:20 PM CST
Are we certain of the ID? Could it be the grapeleaf skeletonizer:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/669031

http://bugguide.net/node/view/1156754/bgimage




[Last edited by sooby - May 4, 2016 3:24 PM (+)]
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Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
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mellielong
May 4, 2016 4:07 PM CST
Hard to tell from the current picture, Sue. You might be on to something there.
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 4, 2016 8:09 PM CST
They do look like black swallowtails. I was surprised to see them in those numbers and on something that looks like a grape.

You must be doing something right!

Daisy
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
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mellielong
May 4, 2016 8:18 PM CST
I think Sue is on the right path. If it was grape vine, then it's not the Swallowtail. I've only seen the Grape Skeletonizer cats when they were nearly full grown. It's eerie how similar the smaller ones are, though!
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Name: Cindy
Houston Tx
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CindyHTx
May 5, 2016 9:44 AM CST
Just adding more pics
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
May 5, 2016 9:50 AM CST
I vote NO on Swallowtail

Yes on Grapeleaf Skelletonizer
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
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mellielong
May 5, 2016 10:21 AM CST
Yeah, now that you can see the little tufts of hair, they're definitely not Swallowtails which are smooth. Plus, the biggest indicator I use to identify a caterpillar is what they're eating. They turn into a cool moth - kind of a wasp mimic. Ooh, and they eat Virginia Creeper, too. I have tons of that stuff and no one ever eats it. Thumbs down Anyway, here's all you want to know about the Grape Leaf Skeltonizer (love the name) from the folks at UF: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/fruit/grapeleaf_skeleton...
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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
May 5, 2016 5:01 PM CST
Oh man, do I ever want some of those! They can eat their little hearts out on my Virginia Creeper. I'll happily cheer them on!
Who ever decided to name it creeper anyway? More like Virginia Runner! Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
May 5, 2016 7:31 PM CST
A friend of mine calls it Virginia Takeover which I think is even more fitting sometimes. Every summer I spend days extracting bushels of it from my hedge and border.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
May 5, 2016 7:49 PM CST
How can y'all even touch Virginia creeper? I knew poison ivy had 3 leaves so why is this 5 leaves vine breaking me out and making me itch? I run for the water to scrub it off if I even think I've touched it.
Thanks to these wonderful forums, I am trying to plant host plants for the butterflies. Last year I only had bronze fennel, but this year I went nuts and bought paw paw trees, milkweed, cherry trees, passion vine, and white Dutchman's Pipe seeds. I hope to have a caterpillar and butterfly paradise. Lovey dubby

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