Tips and News

Bug Watch – Lily Caterpillar Alert

This is a tale of a VERY hungry caterpillar.  Lily caterpillars (Spodoptera picta) like hot, wet and humid conditions so it is no surprise that they’re back and attacking clivea, crinums, hippeastrums, the spider lily (hymenocallis) and other plants in the lily family.

You will first know you have a problem if you spot an unusual patch on the leaf, turn it over and find a nursery of small caterpillars there.  If you miss this, skeletonised leaves and groups of caterpillars up to 5cm long with yellow stripes on the older ones will soon leave you feeling very alarmed.  The damage caused is severe and can result in the death of plants.  Ravaged plants, such as the survivors of previous attacks in the Courthouse garden, can take a long time to recover.

Products registered to control butterfly or moth caterpillars (e.g. Dipel) can be used and unsightly leaves removed.  Ask others what they find effective in Q&A at our next meeting.  Any caterpillars that survive your best efforts to defeat them will pupate in the soil or leaf litter at the base of the plant waiting to start the cycle all over again when conditions are right.

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