Monarda Buds with Catapillars

eigdeh(z6 NJ)June 30, 2006

I am more aware of my garden plants now. I have had Monarda in my yard from the previous owners and the plants are quite full. The flowers were never that spectacular. Just a few petals per bud. This year I noticed that some buds were completely eaten before opening up and I looked inside a few. Sure enough catapillars are in them.

I don't like to spray, but I used Sevin on them. Problem is though that the buds are so well wrapped with protective leaves, buds or what ever you call it, that the poison is not getting where it is needed. I sprayed late last night and the pillars are still moving around like nothing happened. I know sevin kills catapillars on the leaves almost instantly and I am wondering if there is anything I should do.



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cailinriley(z3 Calgary AB)

Do you know what kind of caterpillar you have?

If I found some on my monardas, and discovered they were tent caterpillars (unlikely), I'd be trying hard to find a way to get rid of them. If I found out that they were painted lady, swallowtail, monarch, etc. caterpillars (yeah, I know monarch prefer swamp milkweed), I'd let them keep eating the monarda. Especially since you sound like you don't value the monarda flower in the first place.

Is there any chance you could post a photo so that someone could identify whether you've got a real pest or a valuable visitor?

Just my 2¢ worth.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 7:14PM
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Misery loves company! I've been hand picking (with a tweezer) these little B%*#^@&s for a few weeks now, drowning them in a cup of water. They destroy the buds either deforming or eliminating the blooms.

I believe this is the culprit, Pyrausta signatalis-monarda/horsemint caterpillar:

Someone had posted a link for me last year about this critter, and there isn't alot of info on it, but I'm 99.9% positive it's this guy. Whenever I see the moth, I've been smashing it, usually when it lands on a leaf.

So far, this years damage has been extensive on my "Jacob Cline", but they're moving on to the "Marshall's Delight", which just started blooming for me. They didn't bother with the "Blue Stocking" or "Claire Grace", which bloom later than the first two for me.

Good luck ;)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 8:42PM
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cailinriley(z3 Calgary AB)

Euwwww, Tracey. That's definitely a squishable caterpillar! I'm not even sure it deserves the name. To me, caterpillars mean butterflies and (some) moths...this one's just a larva! The fact that it went for the most beautiful monarda (Jacob Cline...the only one that attracts hummingbirds in my yard) makes it even less desirable!

Hand picking is the environmentally preferable way to dispose of these creatures. I wonder if the ammonia/water spray (1 part to 9 parts) that I use on slugs would get rid of these so you don't have to get close and personal with them?

If these are the "caterpillars" that Mike has, it's no wonder he wants to eliminate them!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 11:44PM
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I won't dare use chemicals on my monarda's; especially since I have hummers. I don't use chemicals anyway, which probably explains my earwig explosion in recent years. I did find out by accident that they simply can't keep away from teriyaki sauce, so I'll be placing plenty of solo cups around with that as bait.

I just picked a few more of those cats off of the Jacob Cline. They range in size, but the one that I took the picture of was the largest I had seen. There sure is plenty of babies though. I've noticed alot of those moths today, so I'm sure my Blue Stockings will be hit next; I just spotted the first bloom, which is earlier than usual.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 12:57PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Those are the guys I have! They have been doing damage for years, but I never really knew why they looked so bad till this year. I do like the monarda, just not they way that mine have looked. Some of the buds opened up and all there was was some poop!

I'll hand pick them for a while, though there are hundreds of buds.

I have never seen a hummer in my yard. I'll have to keep an eye out for them.

Thanks guys!


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 4:22PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Wow, I would be crushed if caterpillars were eating my bee balm like that, because of all the plants in the garden the hummingbirds like it the best!

I have a large patch of the red bee balm in my new butterfly garden, and would never use toxic pesticides on anything in the gardens, because I enjoy the wildlife so much. Only once in awhile, like when I'm battling the invasive oriental bittersweet in the back of my lot that wants to take over the neighborhood.

You could try Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT, which is an organic bacterial insecticide that targets caterpillars, but is harmless to birds, worms, bees, pets, and people. Anything they eat that has BT on it will cause them to stop feeding and die.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 8:58AM
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janetr(Ottawa USDA 4a)

Cailin, for the caterpillars, try adding some dishsoap or insecticidal soap to your ammonia mixture. It's then ready for slugs and earwigs. It might work on caterpillars too. Give it a try and let us know!

Tracey, soapy water is lethal to earwigs. If you want to be as environmentally friendly as possible, use Murphy's Oil Soap. And add a layer of cooking oil to your teriyaki sauce (soya sauce works too, and is probably cheaper) and you will have very effective earwig traps.

Janet's Garden

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 11:43AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

I have had the monarda for 9 years, never used any chemicals on it till the other day, and I have never seen a hummer. :C(

I have been hand checking the buds and killing the 1 or 2 cats in each bud with my fingers. I tried spraying insecticidal soap on the cats, but when I checked back on them at a later time they were still fresh, plump, eating, and pooping. Not sure if anything else would work since they are so well protected from moisture. One thing for sure though. I cannot keep checking the hundreds of buds.

It is working though as this is the first year I have seen full blooms. :c)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 1:39PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I know this is an old post but I have been plagued with this moth larvae this year on my Jacob' Cline. Tracy if you see this post please tell me if you found a way of getting rid of them without using chemicals. So far I have only had 4 flowers completely open up out of several flower heads. I have been flushing the flower heads with water very early in the a.m. which brings them up to the surface and then I squish them with a skewer. I have also been going after those tiny moths which is what I had suspected was laying the eggs.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 7:04PM
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