It isn't such a wonderful plant when the oleander caterpillars hit our town - they destroy every plant in their path, get in our homes and businesses and literally make our streets and pathways slick when we step on them - they come by the gabillions! They just started appearing in our area.
I love oleander, but I was warned by a native Miamian in the Georgia forum to beware of the caterpillars they attract. She said their bite is extremely painful. Who knew? I'm growing yellow, white, red, and several shades of pink oleander that is cold hardy here in central SC. It roots easily, and even though I have serious ground vole issues, they don't touch the oleander. For me, poisonous root systems are a definite plus. There is a salmon colored oleander that I love, but, despite tag info indicating it's cold hardy in Zone 8a, it can't survive winters around here. And I will remember to beware of the biting(or is it stinging?) caterpillars.
Thanks, Melody! I have had the caterpillars one yr an have had oleanders for around 8 yrs. I immediately squashed them in the cocoons they made on my house and have not had any since. I am sure they will return but I will be ready to squash again.
Ouch do they really bite or sting?? Ewwwwww who would have thought it. Yuck they are ugly too.
We are lucky here in Australia in that we don't have any of those nasty caterpillars on our Oleanders,but we do have a butterfly called the common crow which uses the Oleander as a host plant,it is similar looking to the monarch,only slightly smaller and in black rather than the tan of the monarch,even the caterpillar and chrysalis are similar to a degree but I think the oleander chrysalis is even more beautiful as they show a beautiful golden or silver metallic sheen. They look like precious jewels hanging from a leaf http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Common-Crow-Butterfly-chrysalis/ . As kids we used to love collecting them.
Kay Jones, did you try spraying the plants they eat with bacillus thurengensis? BT is the trade name?? Kills many kinds of catterpillars quickly and is totally non toxic to anything other than the worms! Birds can even eat the dead catt. and no effect. Cheap and easy to use. the more dead worms the less adults later to reproduce.Biologicals are always the best and safest way.