Caterpillar Calamity!!!
I am having trouble with voracious caterpillars on my Mandevilla plants in my back yard in Orlando, Fl Could you possibly identify them for me and advise what I can do to discourage them from consuming my plants??? Many thanks
Paul Bond

Hi Paul,
First we are impressed by the long depth of field in your photograph and love the way the single caterpillar in the foreground appears to dwarf its coevals in the background. These are Oleander Moth Caterpillars, Syntomeida epilais. The adults are also known as Polka Dot Wasp Moths. We normally get reports of caterpillars feeding on oleander, but we found an oleander website that mentions that oleander and mandevilla are both in the Dogbane family. Since we frown on pesticides in the garden, we would recommend hand picking the caterpillars.

Perspective Correction Update: (07/09/2007) Note on the Oleander caterpillars
Hi Daniel
About the image that is with “Oleander Moth Caterpillar (07/07/2007) Caterpillar Calamity!!!” Wanted to say that I think what this image shows is one leaf, which has on it two tiny, early instar (first instar maybe?) caterpillars, as well as one big hulking late instar individual. I mean they are individuals of different ages, from two different batches of eggs. Best,
Susan

Hi Susan,
Closer inspection shows you are correct and all caterpillars are on the same leaf. We had really been looking forward to the opportunity of using one of our favorite words correctly in a sentence.

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