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Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

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Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  VJ72584 on 7/3/2016, 2:16 pm

Found this guy in the field peas last night.  Pretty to look at, but what is he up to? The peas are almost done for this year so I am not too worried about any damage to them. I will replant that box soon.



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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/3/2016, 2:43 pm

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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 7/3/2016, 2:57 pm

I'd say since it doesn't have any long contrasting tufts like a tussock moth caterpillar, it's likely a tiger moth caterpillar. Quite possibly a "yellow bear" (analogous to woollybear), which turns into a Virginian Tiger Moth. Just like the page Scorpio Rising found suggests.

My caterpillar guide book says they can start out cream colored but change color as they age, to more of a reddish-tan. If they aren't white for long, that explains fewer references to white ones.

The moth is mostly white, with a yellow chin, and yellow flanks that also have black spots. This kind of  caterpillar isn't very picky about what they eat, so he may well be enjoying your pea leaves.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/3/2016, 3:15 pm

Or the salt marsh caterpillar. Neither is a plant devouring thing that I can find.

http://www.simplegiftsfarm.com/caterpillar-identification.html#submission_21699497

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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  VJ72584 on 7/3/2016, 3:42 pm

A Virginian Moth - makes sense - my name is Virginia. Lol  Funny how you pay no attention to bugs until you start a garden.  Thanks guys.

On another note, this year I have seen almost no honey bees or butterflies.  We had so much flooding last fall, I wondered if that has something to do with it.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 7/3/2016, 4:08 pm

Laughing Hm... Maybe we should just start naming the bugs after the people asking about them. Like Scorp-IO moth! (I know it's not a good joke if I have to explain it, but there is an Io moth.)

They'll eat vegetable leaves, so technically a pest, but no where near as destructive as most pests. If you've got a weedy place nearby and he's still hanging out when you start switching the box over, you could probably move the caterpillar there and he's likely to find some weeds that are perfectly acceptable as food and do his thing without bothering you further.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  camprn on 7/3/2016, 8:17 pm

Bugguide.net

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 8/23/2017, 8:15 am

I found this strikingly colored beast feeding on my soybeans:


I'm not super pleased about that, but I've looked up this caterpillar before after seeing it on some wild plant and know it will turn into a butterfly like this - a silver spotted skipper:


Since there was just the one, and they are clean poopers (they fling it away, instead of leaving it in messy piles on the plant like the cabbage butterfly caterpillars) and since it turns into a butterfly I like, it got ranked neutral, and got to stay. At this point it seems to have crawled off to form a chrysalis somewhere.
These butterflies have been quite abundant locally this year, and in my yard they are all named Skip. Laughing
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 9/25/2017, 6:42 pm

I harvested my edamame the other day and found three of the caterpillars - they got BIG! Didn't notice any difference in my yield vs last year, so I guess the plants were healthy enough to support a few hungry butterfly babies. Apparently I was wrong about the previous one crawling away, they are good at hiding - they use silk to fold the leaves into sleeping bags to conceal themselves in. Here are two that were sharing a leaf nest that I disturbed while harvesting:

Spacing: 3 caterpillars per 2 squares of soy beans. Smile
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2017, 12:51 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote: Spacing: 3 caterpillars per 2 squares of soy beans. Smile
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  trolleydriver on 9/26/2017, 1:23 pm

Just made myself a salad with couple of types of lettuce, kale, mizuna, etc.  I washed things well then tossed the ingredients together. As I was about to take in some kale I noticed something was not quite right. There it was ... a small green caterpillar.  Now I know what that white butterfly was doing around my kale plants a few days ago. If I had not seen the little monster I would have ingested some additional protein for lunch.


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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2017, 10:16 pm

Shocked

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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 9/27/2017, 8:40 am

trolleydriver wrote:Just made myself a salad with couple of types of lettuce, kale, mizuna, etc.  I washed things well then tossed the ingredients together. As I was about to take in some kale I noticed something was not quite right. There it was ... a small green caterpillar.  Now I know what that white butterfly was doing around my kale plants a few days ago. If I had not seen the little monster I would have ingested some additional protein for lunch.

I guess you don't know if it was a good caterpillar or not if you didn't taste it. No BLech. It amazes me how I sometimes still find some on the third rinse.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  sanderson on 9/28/2017, 2:39 am

I grow lettuce under tulle. I found these on the kale last fall when I delayed covering for one stupid day.


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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 9/28/2017, 12:03 pm

The caterpillar looks like a cabbage looper (turns into a moth.) Scroll down on this page to see a mature larva showing the same strong segmentation:
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/cabbage_looper.htm

But the chrysalides look like the are from/of the standard white cabbage butterfly.

It's amazing how quickly they lay eggs... and how many.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  brianj555 on 9/28/2017, 6:14 pm

Found these today.  Good or bad?  I mean they are eating my tomatoes.  That's BAD!


Identification of friend or foe and suggestions on how to proceed would be appreciated!
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  brianj555 on 9/28/2017, 7:48 pm

I read online that bt helps with caterpillars and hornworms ect. And doesn't harm pollinators. Is that true?
And that neem oil used right before dark doesn't harm pollinators.  Is that true?
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  sanderson on 9/29/2017, 12:03 am

I hope Beetles can help identify these. They kind of look like 2 different species. BT is supposed to be safe around pollinators. Neem oil solution needs to be dry by morning when the bees return.


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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 9/29/2017, 8:20 am

Sometimes caterpillars can look strikingly different at different ages, but I agree those two are different.

I'm thinking the first is Southern Armyworm (turns into a moth)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/1039188/bgimage

And the second is Tomato Fruitworm=Corn Earworm (also turns into a moth)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/35940/bgimage

Both are typically considered agricultural/garden pests.

Bt is specific to caterpillars. It will kill the caterpillars of both moths and butterflies, many of which *are* pollinators. Even many pest caterpillars grow up to be pollinators. Bt can't tell the difference between the butterflies and moths you want and the ones you don't. BUT they have to eat the Bt to be affected, so it only kills caterpillars that are eating the plants that you spray it on. So you get to decide which plants are yours for you to eat, and spray just those, and not spray the ones you decide are theirs (milkweed!) for them to eat.

The caterpillar version of Bt will not affect non-lepidopteran(moth/butterfly) pollinators such as bees, wasps, sawflies, ants, flies (hoverflies, midges, mosquitoes, bee flies), and beetles.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  brianj555 on 9/29/2017, 9:00 am

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Sometimes caterpillars can look strikingly different at different ages, but I agree those two are different.

I'm thinking the first is Southern Armyworm (turns into a moth)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/1039188/bgimage

And the second is Tomato Fruitworm=Corn Earworm (also turns into a moth)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/35940/bgimage

Both are typically considered agricultural/garden pests.

Bt is specific to caterpillars. It will kill the caterpillars of both moths and butterflies, many of which *are* pollinators. Even many pest caterpillars grow up to be pollinators. Bt can't tell the difference between the butterflies and moths you want and the ones you don't. BUT they have to eat the Bt to be affected, so it only kills caterpillars that are eating the plants that you spray it on. So you get to decide which plants are yours for you to eat, and spray just those, and not spray the ones you decide are theirs (milkweed!) for them to eat.

The caterpillar version of Bt will not affect non-lepidopteran(moth/butterfly) pollinators such as bees, wasps, sawflies, ants, flies (hoverflies, midges, mosquitoes, bee flies), and beetles.
Thanks beetles.  I will be using bt on the majority of my tomato and green bean plants late this afternoon.  I have lots of baby frogs in my bed and my understanding is that is a good thing.  I have also read that bt will not harm frogs and many other beneficials. (except the good caterpillars)  Is that true?  I would not consider myself to have a Fruitworm "infestation" on my tomato plants yet, but I picked off probably 20 + tiny little leaf roller caterpillars off of my green bean leaves this morning.  
After reading that neem oil will harm the frogs, I have decided not to use that for now.  I'm thinking the frogs will do more natural long run good than the neem oil.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 9/29/2017, 10:25 am

Bt will not harm frogs. It will only harm caterpillars that eat it. Basically Bt is bacteria and a toxin the bacteria make, and the kinds that kills caterpillars only infects caterpillars. It doesn't infect anything else. With frogs involved Bt is a better choice than neem. Thank you being kind to the frogs!
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  brianj555 on 9/29/2017, 6:57 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Bt will not harm frogs. It will only harm caterpillars that eat it. Basically Bt is bacteria and a toxin the bacteria make, and the kinds that kills caterpillars only infects caterpillars. It doesn't infect anything else. With frogs involved Bt is a better choice than neem. Thank you being kind to the frogs!
Frogs are good. I always try to avoid killing them with lawnmower and weedeater ect.  My wife is very creeped out by them, so if she sees one, she always alerts me to it. There are lots of frogs around my house.  Lots. I have started picking them up from other areas of my yard and placing them near the bed.  I actually leave it up to them to decide if they want to jump inside or not.  Laughing It's so great to hear they are good for the garden.  I would have been in trouble if they weren't.
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Tomato Hormworms or Caterpillars?

Post  brianj555 on 9/30/2017, 11:31 am

Ok. I showed this pic several days ago. This was the only one of these guys I had seen. Before that day.  (I understand they are good at hiding, but I inspect my bed fairly closely twice a day)

Upon inspection this morning.  I found these!affraid

I tested my BT mixture on my green bean plants yesterday and they look very good today.  Tonight before dark, I will be spraying the tomato plants as well.
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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  sanderson on 10/1/2017, 3:51 am

Shocked That's a lot of tomato horn worms!

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Re: Caterpillar - Good or Bad?

Post  brianj555 on 10/1/2017, 11:30 am

Yes.  I have only found one that size since and some small and very small ones. (In comparison) I did spray BT on them last night.  The best I can tell, they are actually "tobacco" horns.  The horn is red and from what I learned we have many more tobacco than tomato down here.  Basically the same thing.  They turn into a moth as well.  They did much more leaf eating than fruit chomping so far.  I have 3 or 4 tomaotes with minor damage.  It seems like the really small ones , (1 inch) are the ones I'm finding on the actual tomatoes and that has been isolated.  The really big ones (3 inch) are way up in the very top of the plants devouring leaves.
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