Other types of caterpillars on swan plant

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  • #48077

    Bron and Camryn


    Today I found two non-monarch caterpillars on my swan plant. One appears to be a yellow admiral and the other a white butterfly cat.

    What do I feed these guys? Especially the Yellow.

    I am not 100% certain what they are yet. They are both still tiny and I don’t have a macro lense on my camera so might have to wait until they grow to post a photo.

    I would love to hear any advice on how to raise these. 🙂

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #48118

    Bron and Camryn

    Decided to put the loopers back on the swan plant as they don’t appear to eat the leaves. I found them near some aphids and one was originally attached to one so I am guessing in the absence of flowers maybe they were eating them? Have put them back with another group of aphids.


    Bron and Camryn

    Hi Jacqui,

    Thanks. I think they might be loopers then. I have seen really pretty moths with that wing pattern recently. They are certainly fun to watch slinking their way around everywhere. Can’t wait ’til they get bigger so I can see how many legs they have.

    My swan plants don’t have any flowers at the moment. But I found them on the plant so I guess I should supply them with leaves in the mean time.

    Did buy some brassicas from the organic store just in case they eat those. Doesn’t look like it so I guess that’s more yummy veg for me! 🙂



    Yes, the way they move describes a looper caterpillar. And if you search on “looper” here I’m sure you’ll find the “guilty party” which eats the flowers on swan plants.


    The caterpillar is a crambid, found on Asclepiadaceae, to which it is restricted. It is that charming white speckled brown moth, Glyphodes cf.onychinalis (Guénee, 1854) of Hoare 2001. Robert suggests that our beast may not be the true onychinalis as it differs from specimens under that name in ANIC. I think true onychinalis is from India.

    The caterpillar is usually found feeding on the inflorescences of Asclepias, Gomphocarpus and Hoya. This means that around Auckland there are three common hostplants in peoples’ gardens and porches/verandahs, so it never lacks for a hostplant but the damage it does is pretty minimal. It is found from India to NZ ( Auckland ).

    Asclepiadaceae is naturally absent from New Zealand , so G. onychinalis and Danaus plexippus and D. petilia are dependent on man-introduced hosts.

    This little moth has no common name, but I have attached a picture of the adult.


    Thanks to Ange Gibbons and Landcare.

    – See more at: https://www.monarch.org.nz/forum/topic/green-caterpillars-on-swan-plants/#sthash.nviErqkL.dpuf


    Bron and Camryn

    Hi, on further inspection I might have two of the same type, the smallest is really hard to make out. The bigger one is lime greenish with a bit of brown. It has a yellowish line down its back punctuated by small, raised, rectangular yellow markings (around 5). It looks a bit fuzzy like velvet where it is green. I has a really small head. It has an unusual walking pattern. It sort of moves like a slinky going down the stairs diagonally! The butt comes up to meet the head but then it sort of loops around sideways in a semi spiral to the next location. Before each move it shakes its head up and down very rapidly as if feeling or tasting the leaf. I think the smaller one is the same thing. Has the same markings down the back but is darker brown in colour.

    Could they be loopers of some sort or white butterflies larvae? I am going to the organic store to buy some cabbage to see they it will eat it. They aren’t eating the swan plant even though that is where I found them.

    I don’t think I have an admiral now which is good because I don’t fancy raising nettle plants right now!



    What colour are the caterpillars?



    It’s most unlikely to be an Admiral caterpillar, unless he was on his way to a food plant and got lost. They eat nettles by the way. My guess is he may be a caterpillar of a magpie moth.

    Good luck.

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