Transferring caterpillars killed them

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  • #51582


    Hi. We sold some swan plants to a customer and she advised a few days later that all the caterpillars transferred to the new plants died. We have not sprayed the plants at any stage with anything. I have checked with the grower and they have not been sprayed at any stage either in their nursery. Can you please advise what also could have caused this to happen? Thank you and regards.

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  • Author
  • #51583


    Hello MBGarden

    Great to see you in here!

    There are often other things that could have caused this. The two that come to mind are:

    1. The customer may have had something on her hands when she transferred the caterpillars. Most likely: sunscreen.

    2. If the caterpillars were all the same size they could have been between instars. A caterpillar goes through five stages called instars. When it has grown too big for its skin, it (usually) goes away from the plant and “cements itself down” to the position with a web of silk, before removing its too-small skin and eating it. There is a new (bigger) skin underneath the old skin. When the caterpillars has finished eating the old skin, it will return to the plant and continue eating milkweed.

    The caterpillar is very vulnerable when it sheds its skin so should not be disturbed.

    This is less likely though as I would be surprised if all of the caterpillars were the same size.

    Here is some more information which may be of benefit to you.


    Hope this helps!


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