I live in San antonio(8b). My passion vine was absolutely gorgeous and growing and blooming like crazy until two weeks ago. Now it is a mass of holes and sparse leaves. Blooms are not blooming. I noticed it was covered with orange/black caterpillars. Where did they come from and how do I keep them from destroying my passion vine? I read you should not kill them, but I am afraid they will start spreading out and eat the clematis vines surrounding this one. I have really enjoyed watching this beautiful vine bloom like crazy-but am thinking I should pull it out before these caterpillars eat my entire garden. Any suggestions and advice would be much appreciated. This has been my first passion vine. HELP! Thanks.
An application of BT will take care of those pesky caterpillars. I have a 5 feet X 9feet trellis that is covered with a passionflower vine. It goes in cycles. The trellis gets covered with leaves and flowers. Then we see gulf fritillary butterflies flying around. They lay eggs on the passionflower vine. Then the caterpillars show up and just about defoliate the whole vine in a matter of a day or three, leaving only the trellis and brown stems behind (if I give them free reign). It's a mess if not adressed early. The vines always recover in time and return to their past beauty before the cycle starts anew. The butterflies sip nectar from the blooms, lay their eggs on the leaves and the eggs produce caterpillars that eat the leaves and eventually produce butterflies. It's the circle of life. I'm all for it, but not on my passionflower vines.
My advice: get yourself some bacillus thurigiensis (a.k.a. BT) and a pump sprayer if your passionflower vine is more important to you than the butterflies flying around. As far as the caterpillars infesting the rest of your garden is concerned, that has never happened here.
These vines are host plants for the Gulf Fritillary as well as the endangered Zebra Longwing. The caterpillars your seeing will ultimately become Butterflies. So if you kill the caterpillars then you kill future Butterflies. There are varieties of Passionflowers that are not used as much by the Butterflies...maybe consider getting one of those rather than killing the Butterflies.
Roxxane... how many would you like? 500 pounds, 1/2 ton, a whole ton, a 54-foot semi-trailer full? Please let me know.
I don't know if it's legal to ship those caterpillars by priority mail across state lines. I would hate to be responsible for the Houston area being infested with another introduced species. The passionflowers are blooming right now. The butterflies are fluttering about. It's only a matter of time before the caterpillar onslaught begins anew. I have got to get myself a fresh supply of BT, so I am ready as soon as the first caterpillar is spotted. Time is of the essence when those are present.
Providing it is not illegal to ship them, I'll gladly send them to you. I imagine a small Priority Mail box would do the trick well.
They wouldn't survive here or I would take them. I grow milkweed for the monarchs and they devour it. I don't mind sharing my plants with butterfly larvae, I don't really consider them bugs, sort of fluttering flowers.
I have a mix of Passion Vines - those the catepillars/butterflies like & those they don't. When one is chewed to the vine the other fills in. Any it is seasonal so the vine will come back & bloom again.
Yes, Qwilter. That is the approach I am currently using. Thanks to the generosity of one of our friends on DG, I have obtained a variety of passionflower cultivars. They will all share the trellis. They are growing with wild abandon. If some of you have some passiflora coccinea, I would gladly exchange cuttings of this one with you. It is a vigorous grower that resists the onslaught of the caterpillars. Some of those cultivars will be unappetizing to the caterpillars, so the trellis will never be bare, or become an eyesore. My HOA frowns upon eyesores.
Here are some pictures of my passionflowers this morning, along with a picture of a vilain happily munching on a bud as if it were candy. That's one flower we'll never see. I think I'll catch those buggers, feed them cuttings until they turn into cocoons and then mount the resulting butterflies. Hmmm, a nice shadowbox with gulf fritillaries: not too hard on the eyes. OK, I have a project: catch some caterpillars, house them and wait until butterflies show up. After the hunt, I gotta mix me some BT and spray. My vengence will be terrible. Bare trellis: nevermore!
I forgot to mention that a bee was busy in the first picture. Did you spot it? They don't bother me and I don't bother them. The neighboring rosemary plant seems to attract them much more than the passionflower vine.
Keep in mind...when using pesticides...that not only do the Butterflies use these, but the Hummer's and Bee's...there are ones that they don't care for so much...and are just as pretty. Perhaps a visit to the Butterfly / Hummingbird forum.
I thought I had dropped this from my watch list...I will make sure of it now.