what is eating my swan plant flowers?

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  • #46773

    Chrissie Ward

    Very small pale green caterpillars(8mm) are eating the flower buds on our swanplants. They use silk to bind the buds together and also to neighbouring leaves. What could they be? We haven’t seen them in previous years.

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  • #46778


    They have been identified here in the forum in a previous year/year(s):

    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.

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