What's the killer?

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  • #14733


    I’ve had swan plants this year and must have had 50 or so monarch caterpillars but haven’t seen any sign of a chrysalis.

    I’m now wondering if wasps may be killing them? I just noticed on one swan plant leaf the end bit of a dead caterpillar. It was sort of glued to it by dark secretions from inside. Does it sound like the work of wasps or something else?

    Any advice on how to try to prevent this happening again would be appreciated. (My plants are in the garden, not pots, so obviously I can’t move them from this particular spot.

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  • #36624


    I’ve just found a shieldbug-like bug sucking on a monarch caterpillar, and dead shrivelled caterpillar close by. Looked on the net and found that the bug is most likely a spined solidier bug nymph. The nymph is now squashed.




    Yes, both the native & S Africian praying mantises do eat caterpillars. I squish the Africians & relocate the natives far away from my swan plants/nettles.

    Some shield bugs also eat caterpillars.
    Ants will finish off any caterpiller left by another predator.




    Hi, I have had this happen also but recently things are going well and I have lots of caterpillars. Did notice before when little tiny caterpillars were on the plants outside saw one morning a praying mantis actually eating one to my horror. I do not think it was the native one which has a slim body and the south african one has a larger body.



    Thanks for the helpful advice, jacqui. Now, however, I’m not so certain the problem is wasps. I just read on the internet that praying mantises kill caterpillars and butterflies too.

    The fact is, I’ve never seen so many in my garden as this year, since I’ve started growing swan plants. And several have been absolute monsters, much bigger than any I’ve seen in the past.

    I think they may have been fattening up on my caterpillars! The only places I’ve seen them is in the immediate areas where the swan plants are growing. In fact, I’ve seen some giant ones on the swan plants themselves, several times.

    Alas, I had no idea of the risks, so left them alone. 🙁 I’m absolutely gutted about that now. I’ll be out hunting them first thing tomorrow. They can go in my back garden, which has no swan plants, and darned well like it!



    Yes, sounds like wasps. Throw an old net curtain over the plant, and see if that helps – although it will be a while before you know if it works, AND some of the wasps have already finished feeding their juvenile wasps, i.e. they’re now all seeking nectar.

    You could cut some branches of your swan plant off, take them inside and let the caterpillars pupate indoors? Doesn’t have to be on the dining room table like some of us – could be on a deck under cover, or in an “outhouse”.

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