Subject: Caterpillars defoliate Golden Chain Tree
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Saturday, June 28, 2014 2:33 PM
Several years ago, Mom gave us some tiny seedlings from the Golden Chain Tree, Laburnum anagyroides, that she has growing in her yard in Ohio. See GoBotany for images of the Golden Chain Tree. Well, for many years they have languished, growing very slowly. Earlier in the week, we noticed brown leaves on the largest one, now grown to about four feet in height. Caterpillars were feeding on the leaves, skeletonizing them, and spinning loose webs. We suspect this is some caterpillar in the Ermine Moth superfamily Yponomeutidae, and we thought we might be getting close when we discovered this BugGuide posting of the Laburnum Leaf Miner Moth, Leucoptera laburnella, however our caterpillars seem too big to be Leaf Miners.
BINGO!!! The Scenic Hills Nursery has an image of the Genista Caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis, and according to the site, they are: “A web producing caterpillar that attacks Texas laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle, and Laburnum. Larvae defoliate as well as spin webs.” Now we realized why it looked so familiar. We have images of the Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar in our archives and BugGuide has a substantial page devoted to it.
The Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar is also called the Sophora Worm.