Little green worms wrapped in Autumn Joy leaves

by Kathryn Dodge
(Essex Vt Chittenden)

I have discovered an Autumn Joy plant, long established, with some browning on the tips of leaves and a few curled leaves with a small green worm inside. Can you help?

Hi Kathryn, there are many moth and butterfly caterpillars that will feed on garden plants of all kinds.

Luckily, there is generally enough to go around, and the damage will be limited to a few leaves.

Most plants can survive this kind of damage just fine and there is no need to panic and kill everything off just because of a few tiny caterpillars.

It's important to identify the adult insect if you're worried about them totally decimating the plant. Be really cautious about over reacting to seeing a few bugs; don't do what I did and kill off what turned out to be Swallowtail Butterfly larvae that were feasting on dill in my garden. I kick myself to this day over that one.

There are several ways to determine what the insects are; you can grow the caterpillars yourself until they pupate and turn into the adult form, which might be easier to identify.

Take some of the leaves and caterpillars to your country extension agent, agriculture inspector or a local horticulturist, and see if they can identify them for you.

Just leave them be, and observe the life cycle, and marvel at the diversity of living beings in your garden.

Happy Gardening!

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