Caterpillars on comfrey!?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by sheep tamer, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

    Mar 22, 2005
    Just wondering if anyone has any advice or
    theories... We've got a lovely new comfrey
    bed, planted on a terraced rock garden that
    had been let go for some time before we
    reclaimed it. The comfrey I planted in June
    was growing strong and healthy, then in
    the past couple weeks, we've seen the
    following signs:

    The ends of leaves kinda roll together, held
    by spider-like threads. When unrolled, there
    is a tiny black prickly caterpillar, in more
    damaged leaves, the caterpillar is naturally
    larger and greener, but still fuzzy/prickly.
    There are usually a nice mound of black
    eggs/droppings, not sure which. The leaves
    are being skeletonized from the ends back
    towards the stalks. Some plants have
    many leaves with these pests, and we are
    looking at a pretty sorry harvest of our
    crop if this keeps up.

    This is most frustrating, as I cannot find this
    exact pest in my insect book and have never
    had comfrey infested like this! We don't use
    products that are poisons but are looking at
    a good dose of BT. It just doesn't seem like
    we'll get ahead of them otherwise. We have
    been handpicking them off, but there are
    more the next day! :bash: There are healthy
    squash plants right near the comfrey, no
    caterpillars on THEM! (yet?) I can get pics
    of them if it'd help identify and destroy 'em.

    TIA everyone!
  2. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    The black stuff is poop.

    Unless you are worried about what that caterpiller will develop into, I'd just squish the darn thing, myself. 9x out of 10, they are moths, anyway...and I don't like any of them!!!!

  3. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    sheeptamer- I posted a reply before but I keep getting messages saying my IP is banned, aarghh.. but I'll try again and hope the post goes through-

    We had the same thing on our comfrey a few weeks ago. Our infestation must have been lighter than yours because I was able to hand pick the pupating larvae and get rid of them that way. There were a couple of weeks where the bugs looked as if they were getting ahead of us- they were eating the new leaves as fast as the plants were putting them out. But, eventually the plants prevailed and I have not seen any more bugs on them for a couple of weeks at least.

    I never did figure out what they were. Keep picking- maybe you can keep ahead of them. Good luck.
  4. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

    Mar 22, 2005
    Thanks for your replies! I even found this same insect on
    my thyme plants...on the opposite side of our house! So,
    I am encouraged that perhaps there is a short lifecylce of
    these guys and we, too, can get ahead of them. In the
    meantime, I've just made it my new daily ritual to scout
    them out and mush them. :eek: For whatever reason,
    they don't seem very appetizing to our chickens...

    Now, if we could just get ahead of the grasshoppers, who
    seem determined to ruin our bean crop.