I’ve learned that it’s a good habit to walk around the garden every day or two to examine all of your plants up close. Pest and disease problems seem to spring up over night, and the earlier you catch them, the better your chances of saving the harvest.
Today, as I walked around the yard looking things over, I noticed something going on with my grape vines that I didn’t like the looks of.
In my leaves.
I immediately grabbed my pruning shears and a bucket, and set to work clipping and removing all of the leaves that had larvae or any evidence of them. It’s important to collect the leaves in a container and dispose of them properly (ie: the burn barrel), or else the larvae will just grow, multiply, and return to your plants.
Dutifully, I went through all of the vines, lifting leaves and examining the undersides, trying to find as many pests as possible. And then I came across this guy…
They’re a relatively new pest in the US, first spotted in California in 2009.
I looked it up, and found this alarming information:
In May and June, first-generation larvae web and feed on the flower clusters. Second-generation larvae (July-August) feed on green berries. Young larvae penetrate the berry and hollow them out, leaving the skin and seeds. Third-generation larvae (August-September) cause the greatest damage by webbing and feeding inside berries and within bunches, which become contaminated with frass (excrement).
This is so not good. We’ve never had these caterpillars before. In the past, our main grapevine pest has been June Bugs (Japanese Beatles), but at least they only eat the leaves of the vines and leave the fruit alone. From the sound of it, grapevine caterpillars decimate the entire plant.
After doing a little more reading, I’ve learned that supposedly Stink Bugs (aka Shield Bugs) are predators to the Grapevine Moth Caterpillar larvae, and lucky for us- we’re infested with Stink Bugs! I’ve instructed the kids to put as many as they can catch on the grapevines. In the meantime, I’ll be hand picking any and all damaged leaves and baby caterpillars that I can find on my vines.
I’ve also read that BT (Bacillus thuringiensis, a completely natural bacterial) will kill the larvae as well.
Wish me luck.
Have any of you ever dealt with Grapevine Moth Caterpillars? What have you found to work best for you?