Subject: Caterpillar/Worm is Devastating Violas
Location: Bloomfield, Nebraska
May 26, 2012 3:02 pm
I have never seen this bug before, nor can I find it online. They are DEVASTATING my Violas! This is the first and ONLY year that anything has attacked the Violas. They range in size from approx. 2mm to 1 or 1.5 inch. They do not ”loop” when moving.The larger ones seem to prefer the flowers. The smaller ones have been found under the flower or on a leaf. They are also on a windowbox of Pansies but not the hanging basket. Very little damage to the Pansies but ALL the Violas have been devastated! They are on Every single Viola plant I have. Which are spread out amongst 6 different areas. They are ONLY on the Violas even the ones that are under or touching other plants. Which include Dianthus, Roses, and a small evergreen tree. Well, one miniature rose does have some holes on some of the leaves and some of the buds were black edged, but, they were this way last year also. They are very soft-bodied, however, dormant oil did not seem to have any effect. I have re sorted to hand picking and squishing or throwing in soapy water. Also, when squished, the ”guts” are dark green.
The 3rd picture is of the white Viola prior to being infested. They are out of control! Please help!
Signature: Melissa from Northwest Nebraska
We hope we responded before there was any large scale extermination for this matter. These are the caterpillars of the Variegated Fritillary. The chrysalis of the Variegated Fritillary is a beautiful gold-flecked object. The adult Variegated Fritillary butterflies are lovely creatures. Many gardeners put in plants to attract butterflies, and while nectar producers are vital, providing food plants for the caterpillars is another decisive factor needed to ensure healthy butterfly populations. The plants will grow back new leaves and flowers and you can enjoy the adult butterflies in a few more weeks.