Black Death

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  • #55813


    Recently noticed my caterpillars going dopey then going black in colour , what can you do has anyone else struck this ?

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  • #55965


    Milton has been used for years by international butterfly breeders for viral and bacterial control, and sterilising both plants and equipment. Used at full strength ( 1 tablet per 2 litres water) for sterilising equipment and also plants, it has the advantage of not being corrosive like chlorine. At half strength it can be used to spray both plants and caterpillars. But bear in mind that while this will sanitise the plant leaves, it will not cure the disease that any larvae already have, and can still pass on the disease, and once infected there is no cure.



    Jacqui, I have not heard of this. I have lost many butterflies to OE both outside and inside ones (brought inside as they were first generation ones) this season. Can Milton be used outside too – perhaps to spray plants when eggs laid? It wasn’t black death as it only affected the chrysalides which became too black and the lid seemed to separate. caryl



    What strength Milton?



    I would suggest getting Milton from the baby department in any supermarket. Spray plants and caterpillars with a Milton solution.

    Once you have controlled the problem, you can ease back on how often you spay, but would still recommend a general spray every 3-4 days for general health in captivity. The caterpillars, eggs and pupae will be unaffected by Milton. The spray will only kill bacteria and virus problems.

    I’ve just learned of this recently from another butterfly discussion group.



    I noticed that with one of my caterpillars on a swan plant: the bottom half just went black and it shrivelled up. All the other caterpillars seem unaffected: fingers crossed, as I can’t disinfect the swan plants.



    Its a ghastly disease. There is quite a bit of info about it available online and probably somewhere on this site. IME the basics are once the caterpillar has it there is little you can do except keep it away from the others (best to euthanase) and make sure the fluid that leaks from it does not come into contact with others or surfaces the others will come into contact with. If you have your caterpillars in an enclosure its best to clean down with water with disinfectant regularly. Keep all enclosures clean, remove all droppings and leaf litter daily. Good luck.

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