I was horrified one morning to find one of my precious beloved spider plants had been devoured to nearly nothing!
I could see that each leaf had been munched on both sides from top to bottom so that all that remained were a bunch of chewed up leaves that were not pretty at all.
I searched all through the plant, but could not find the little culprit who did this.
Each day I watched as the plant kept getting more and more eaten until it started looking like some kind of emaciated skeleton.
I finally decided that I was going to figure out what was eating my plant once and for all so I sat down to the task of searching through every single blade and was shocked when I finally found a tiny little green caterpillar hiding away in the folds and rolls of the very bottom of one of the nearly devoured leaves.
It seems that this caterpillar didn't like to come out during the day and that's why I never saw it. Is it nocturnal?
Well I tossed that little guy out, but sadly he wasn't the only one. I ended up taking the plant out of the soil, submerging it under water for a couple of days and replanting it in new soil. It was so ugly and took nearly a year to grow back somewhat decently, but always looked a little odd still.
My questions are:
1) What kind of caterpillar was this?
2) How did it get on my plant, as the plant was kept on a screened in lanai?
3) How can I keep this from happening in the future?
Drought Smart Plants reply:
To answer your specific questions: what kind of caterpillar was it? Unless you see an adult moth or butterfly around your plants, or keep one of the caterpillars and hatch it out, you'll most likely never know what kind it is. There are so many that even seeing the caterpillar it would be difficult to actually pin down which kind it is.
How did it get on your plant? I've seen moths get through tiny holes in a screen, they're pretty determined when they see (or is it smell?) something that may work for their babies.
How can you keep it from happening? Well, I guess this is where the careful observation of your plants comes in - if you can spot them before they do too much damage, and deal with them then, instead of after they chew up your plants then that's the best. There really is no kind of treatment to spray on your plants in advance of an attack, so really your keen eyes are the only defense. I've heard of people having great success with some types of finches that usually are kept in a cage. They'll find anything that moves.
Fortunately, plants have the means to come back from such an infestation, by producing new leaves fairly quickly, so in your climate, they should quickly recover.
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