Caterpillars monster my lemon tree.

Ozi 1 April 2011 18
caterpillars

This morning I performed my usual pee on the lemon tree in the backyard. As the bladder happily disgorged, I noticed a number of ferocious looking caterpillars munching away on the new leaves on the lemon tree.

There would have been at least 20, in different stages from 1cm long black tiddlers right up to the behemoths in the picture.

When I prodded one of the larger examples, it reared back and two pink prongs whipped out from above its head, forming long, slightly phallic horns. It then began to emit a nasty yellow substance from its mouth, which I imagine is irritating to the skin.

As you can see in the pictures, they are very grand looking caterpillars with a beautiful white underside and big spikes along their back. For our resident lepidopterists, what can I expect these beasts to pupate into?

And for the keen gardeners out there, are they likely to eat all my lemon tree folliage? Thanks RiotACT!

~Ozi.

[Ed- more photos on imageshack]


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18 Responses to Caterpillars monster my lemon tree.
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Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:22 am 22 Feb 21

Is there a link to climate change?

Menke Drenth Menke Drenth 9:36 am 22 Feb 21

I just read your post and comments and hope from now on to safe these caterpillars! But all my leaves are gone what to do with the lemon tree do I prune is to give it a change to start again.

Does anyone have any experience with natural (diy sprays) to ward them off this lemon tree.
Warm regards Menke

Julie Hugo Julie Hugo 1:09 pm 13 Mar 18

I’ve just found some similar caterpillars on my lemon tree and I’m so excited! They won’t destroy the tree, and will hopefully wind up becoming beautiful butterflies, which are essential to the ecosystem. Butterflies and bees perform the essential task of pollinating fruits and vegetables. By encouraging them and not using pesticides, we also encourage ladybirds and lacewings, which feed on aphids and other sap sucking insects. Great photos by the way!

fabforty fabforty 6:07 pm 03 Apr 11

bigfeet said :

My lemon and lime trees also have several of these crawlers.

Rather than kill them, I am happy to pluck them off and transfer them to something other than my citrus.

Does anyone know which type of tree they will survive on? (aside from citrus)

Yes. I have a few Mexican Orange Blossom bushes which these little buggers enjoy. I am killing those on my lemon tree and kaffir lime and allowing the others to graze on the Mexican Orange. It is my version of “natural selection”. My conscience is clear.

INFP INFP 3:32 pm 03 Apr 11

Poor things. I hate having plants specifically because i dont know what to do with the bugs that appear on them, chomping away happily on my precious fruits. I either leave them and think “there is still plenty of the fruits for me and them”… or pluck the caterpillar or whatever off and move it to a different plant/tree.

It’d be good to have doubles of every tree/plant bearing fruits.. one for me, and one to transfer all the bugs onto (they can have it to themselves!). Impractical though… obviously 😛

bigfeet bigfeet 9:57 am 02 Apr 11

My lemon and lime trees also have several of these crawlers.

Rather than kill them, I am happy to pluck them off and transfer them to something other than my citrus.

Does anyone know which type of tree they will survive on? (aside from citrus)

    Deb Mel Deb Mel 10:16 am 10 Jan 18

    Hi You have a swallowtail butterfly & they lays eggs on citrus as the caterpillars eat citrus leaves only. Don’t move them. If you have a small tree like me, the tree will shoot new leafy water shoots to survive. By the middle of summer these beautiful butterflies will have flown away & your tree will be full of new growth. Alternatively, you could provide a totally insecticide free environment by washing hands, put on powder free gloves & remove each egg or caterpillar & place it in its own clean see through plastic lidded container. Line the bottom with clean paper towel. Go & pick a piece of green citrus tree branch (long enough to stand up in container). Each day put on gloves & pick a few fresh or relatively new citrus leaves & wash to remove ants & any hint of insecticide. Place in container & close lid. you must replace the old paper towel & remove any droppings. It takes about 4 weeks from egg to chrysalis. It takes another 3 weeks or so for the new butterfly to emerge & you need to just watch the butterfly emerge – don’t help it as the struggle forces vital fluids through its body & wings which harden. They can live for up to 3 months depending on gender. In the short term your citrus tree may look bare but in the long run you are able to observe a beautiful guest & frankly grasshoppers & locusts do more damage

miz miz 8:31 pm 01 Apr 11

Dipel or Success are both effective organic products that are commercially available (dilute in a spray bottle with water). http://www.organicsaustraliaonline.com.au/prod2436.htm

    Deb Mel Deb Mel 10:21 am 10 Jan 18

    There is always enough for you, for the tree & for butterflies. Furthermore the short amount of time these insects eat is less than it takes for the tree to send out new leafy shoots. Small inconvenience for you & an amazing butterfly as a result.

CHW CHW 7:23 pm 01 Apr 11

+ 1 for peeing on your tree.

– 1000 for eliminating the caterpillars of a native butterfly.

It has been very, very tough for bees and butterflies up until this last rainy break… that would be why they are making up for lost (population) opportunities.

Yes, my cumquat is crawling with these cattypillars…

No, I do not feel entitled to interfere in their desperate attempt to replenish their genepool.

    Deb Mel Deb Mel 10:27 am 10 Jan 18

    Fantastic response. Short term inconvenience for the tree – long term memories of having witnessed an amazing swallow tail butterfly life cycle

Jethro Jethro 4:34 pm 01 Apr 11

Do you not have internal plumbing you barbarian?

M0les M0les 3:20 pm 01 Apr 11

These turn into giant black butterflies.

Also look-out for bronze shield bugs (stink bugs) that suck the bejeezus out of the very young growing tips.

The most effective method of elimination of both types of pests IMHO is physical removal and squishing (They’re large and relatively few in number). Alas they both also produce pongy defences that irritate skin and eyes.

Ozi Ozi 2:51 pm 01 Apr 11

braddonboy said :

They are the larvae of the Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly which are really quite beautiful and nice to see flapping about the garden mid-summer. The butterfly deposits tiny white eggs on the underside or tips of the new growth on citrus trees. Leave the larvae unchecked and, if there’s enough of them or you have a small tree, they will strip it bare of leaves in a very short time.

Hmm considering this, they have been removed:

https://picasaweb.google.com/treloar/CaterpillarsInCanberra

The size of the poop they do is huge too! Man, impressive beasts to be sure.

braddonboy braddonboy 2:27 pm 01 Apr 11

They are the larvae of the Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly which are really quite beautiful and nice to see flapping about the garden mid-summer. The butterfly deposits tiny white eggs on the underside or tips of the new growth on citrus trees. Leave the larvae unchecked and, if there’s enough of them or you have a small tree, they will strip it bare of leaves in a very short time.

EvanJames EvanJames 2:21 pm 01 Apr 11

Yates sell very good stuff for caterpillars (the caterpillars disagree).

Kaz Kaz 2:15 pm 01 Apr 11

We have them too – they’re devouring our kaffir lime tree. They’re far too pretty to squash. We’re hoping they’ll hang around (so to speak) through the cocoon stage so we can see what they end up looking like.

digitalchet digitalchet 2:11 pm 01 Apr 11

Looks like it might be an Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly. They look quite spectacular.

More info on Wikipedia or here

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