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What's eating my MILKWEED??

Willis, TX

No, NOT the Monarch caterpillars!

They're light green caterpillars that are encased in a web, and they stripped several Milkweed before I realized what was happening. Since I've discovered the damage, I've found dozens on other Milkweeds.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Well it may NOT be the grub or Pupa of the Monarch but it is some form of butterfly / moth Pupa that possibly prefferes Milkweed to any other plant.

Either pick them off and burn or whatever is your choice of destroying them, I/m sure there will be a spray available from the garden store too IF you loke that method BUT, without a picture to identify you could spend a fortune on sprays and still not kill off the pest, there are so many different types of Pupa /grubs, but the destruction is always the same, There are some that lay eggs on leaf and then curl the leaf in webs to hide the eggs from predators, others curl up into the leaf themselves after hatching, there is a wasp thet lives in the curled leaves which they also curl themselves and feed on the leaf, there are just too many to give a positive ID without seeing a picture.
Could you remove one with the leaf and take a picture, that way more folks can come in and help you more than I have.
Best Regards. WeeNel.

Willis, TX

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I now have two pictures...some of the leaves the larvae are on ARE curled; all of the larvae are in webs. I hope you recognize it and can solve my mystery!

Thanks!
PS: using pesticides isn't an option !

Thumbnail by whenpigsfly Thumbnail by whenpigsfly
Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Compare to milkweed tussock moth, early stage caterpillar.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I agree with Purpleinopp, to remove this pest, you need to remove the affected leaves that are curled and holding the caterpillar inside the leaf and held there with the web's you talk about. It's the parent MOth / butterfly that weaves the web after she attaches the egg to the leaf so it all belongs to the one insect.

I know this sounds like a pain but removing the curled leaves is the fastest and surest way to deal with this IF your chemical free, or uncurl the leaves and remove the green catterpillar from inside BUT, thats an even longer type of work.

Wish I knew a quicker AND safer way to help you out but maybe someone else can come in and help you out.
When I have this type of problem I choose a good day to do it the way I've said and it becomes quite therapeutic after an hour or so, HOWEVER, for the next few weeks after clearing all the bugs and leaves, you need to go back and check you have NOT missed any but it's easier second time around. Make sure you burn or dispose of the grubs or they will crawl along to next door or even back to your plot.
Best of luck. WeeNel.

Willis, TX

Purpleinopp: An online description says...the Milkweed Tussock Moth looks like yarn leftovers! Plus, it's multi-colored - and eggs are laid en mass. This larvae is green and smooth and there's one egg per leaf. So still looking!

WeeNel: yes, it's a one-at-a-time chore, and it's fast losing its uniqueness! But in the process of hunting down these invaders, I've rescued about a dozen Monarch eggs and/or larvae !

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Well done you, I'm so proud of you, go girl, most people would have reached for a spray to kill all in the garden that moves, breaths or flies ha, ha, ha.
You will be so pleased that you took the time and effort to work the way you are doing it.
Kindest Regards. WeeNel.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Agreed. I share your frustration! I have to go out at least every -other day to remove caterpillars from Cannas or we would never see any flowers. Frogs and anoles live in their leaves, and hummers nectar from the flowers that are able to form, I wouldn't use any chems.

Have you searched "milkweed host plant" to find other critters that find Asclepias palatable?

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I'm looking for you but so far can't find it
Tussock Moth is fuzzy
Wooly Bear also eats milkweed
Queen Caterpillar looks similar but has black butt/head

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Here's something called a tiger moth. The first instar of its' caterpillars are also plain green, like MW tussock moth.
http://livingwithinsects.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/milkweed-tiger-moth/

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Yes! I think we have a winner

http://www.backyardnature.net/instars.htm

Willis, TX

flowAjen: wish we did...but Tiger Moth eggs are laid in clusers and are cream colored. While I can't say I've ever seen the egg my critter comes from,I've never seen any clusters, and the larvae is definitely pale green. Thanks for your help!

Beverly Hills, CA

Well done you, I'm so proud of you, go girl, most people would have reached for a spray to kill all in the garden that moves, breaths or flies ha, ha, ha.
You will be so pleased that you took the time and effort to work the way you are doing it.
Kindest Regards.

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