Monday, May 29, 2006

Columbine Munchers

I have had a bumper crop of columbine this year. The four double "Barlow" columbine that I planted five years ago have propagated nicely (the columbine pictured is actually the common columbine - not the double). They are coming in nice and plush. At least they were until a few days ago when my husband and I noticed that some of the leaves were stripped. I didn't give it much thought until yesterday when I noticed that a few of the plants had been stripped of all their leaves. I took a closer look and found tiny green caterpillars greedily munching away. In fact, some of the leaves were nearly covered in them.

I called my husband over to help me pluck them off. As I figured, this was a treat for him. Together we must have picked several hundred caterpillars. This bunch in the cup came from the one columbine plant pictured above. Holy Caterpillars, Batman!!

I think we were just in time for some, maybe a little too late for others, but I am definitely putting this on my spring-time TO DO list!!

14 Comments:

Blogger Jenn said...

I pinch those guys right on the plant and leave them there, to feed birds or ants.

Columbines are tough, they can get stripped of leaves and will come right back, but I hate those 'pillars.

I have a ally in my yard right now, I've been noticing the leaf damage, but when I've gone to look for the pests, they've already been eaten. Yay for the bird or the toad or whatever, I'm happy.

5/30/2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Sabine said...

I see I'm not the only one with little green caterpillars all over my columbines! Mine get eaten to the nubbins every year.

5/30/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger snappy said...

oh my god!creepy catapillar.Love the columbines.lets hope they regrow now you evicted the 'pillar visitor!

5/30/2006 5:47 PM  
Blogger Naturegirl said...

They ate so much they turned green!! They look cute displayed in this cup!I don't know if I could pick them off! :(

5/30/2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger crazygramma said...

one word YUCK

5/31/2006 2:36 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Jenn, on Gardening by the Yard, Paul James was talking about making bug repellent for your plants by picking a bunch of bugs off the plant and mashing them up, mixing them with water, and spraying them back on the plants. Perhaps it serves as a warning for other would be munchers, much in the same way displaying criminals on pikes outside the city worked for the English.

Sabine, we have had great luck just picking them off. And my husband likes it so much, he is out there a couple times a day picking them off. There are hardly any left now - he's actually disappointed.

Snappy, I will have to post pictures of my really fancy columbine.

NatureGirl, if they weren't demolishing my plants I would just leave them alone. We take the caterpillars and throw them out into the street. There is no way that they can make it back to the yard before they die and sometimes the birds will come down and eat them. There's not much traffic so I don't feel bad about feeding the birds in the street.

CrazyGramma, yep! And they squirm, too!!

5/31/2006 10:32 PM  
Blogger primrozie said...

They look like the cabbage worms I get. I just planted a couple of columbines and I hope they do well! As for the cabbage worms we get on the broccoli and such, we pick them off too. I had ducks that loved to eat them. In fact, they would have picked them off for themselves!!

I read through several posts and had to laugh about your weed comments. I started very early this year, as soon as they were coming up, but having a couple rainfalls in a row quickly put me behind!! I hate to think what it would have looked like without those few days I had of weeding. I'll post some pics on my blog:

http://www.xanga.com/primrozie

I don't have very many good pictures of the garden, but I'll be out today and get more. I posted a couple on the blog. I do have a lot of old pictures that are on the blog from way back. I will post all new ones though of my 2006 garden.

6/04/2006 9:42 AM  
Blogger sideshow bob said...

I can't help it...they're just so yummy!!!

6/05/2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger Ladyseashells said...

Read about ur columbine problem. I had that too.. i thought they were cabbage worms. I just picked them off. Now i know what they are. We'll watch out next spring for them so my columbines will not suffer again.

6/12/2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Primrosie, welcome to my blog! This is the first year that I realized they were there. I had lost a couple of columbine to them before, but just thought the plant had died on it's own. Columbine is a good spreader. I have the wild variety, the barlow mix, and another kind. I like the barlow the best. They look like delicate little peticoats.

SSB, juicy!

Ladyseashells, welcome to my blog! I've been really busy so I apologize for being behind. I definitely think that it will help to get ahead of the game on this little pest.

6/26/2006 10:53 PM  
Blogger macmuse said...

I live at 10,000ft elevation in Colorado and I have these Columbine plant "strippers" too. Does anybody know what other life cycles of this pest look like and are they airborne or soil critters? They have killed small Columbines in my garden...at least they did not regrow the next season.

9/22/2007 7:34 PM  
Blogger M. Matt said...

After getting back from a four-day vacation, we noticed our Columbine was munched by the same little green caterpillars with a slightly-darker green stripe.

I read through this blog entry, but I didn't read any entries where the type of caterpillar was named.

It doesn't quite look like a Cabbage Worm, but kind of... Did anyone have any other ideas?

How about ideas on insect predators versus using BT?

5/12/2008 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i came across this blog while trying to find out what was happening to my columbines.

they are sawfly larvae - they don't produce any pretty butterflies, so go ahead and kill them!! they are nearly impossible to deal with. last year i squished them all year. then they came back... this year i'm trying some insecticide.

btw - nice blog!

6/04/2009 8:23 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Hi M. Matt, sorry I didn't get your comment last year - and after I promised and everything!!! ;) I was in trip planning mode for my near month overseas. No one has identified this little bugger, some thought cabbage worm and it looks like the latest commenter may have an idea - aquilegia sawfly larvae.Click the link to find answers to your questions on controlling them. I personally find that if you just watch the columbine the first couple of weeks that they start to leaf out, you can just pluck them off or squish them. Then it's on to battling leaf miners! I just squish the leaves that they are in to kill those.

Anonymous, thanks for identifying that pest! I Googled aquilegia sawfly larvae and yup, that's it.
And thanks about my blog.

6/04/2009 10:27 PM  

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