sangenuer
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Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Central Florida

Caterpillars in my jasmine

I am in central Florida and just purchased a jasmine (I think Confederate). I've planted it in a pot and am training it on a trellis. I used a mix of regular potting soil and some Miracle-Gro potting soil I happened to have around.

Within a day or two of planting, I noticed some caterpillars in the soil. They are brownish, kind of mottled, and about an inch or less long. I have not yet seen any caterpillars on the plant itself or evidence of defoliation but I'm a little worried. Everything I've read has said to use insecticidal soap, but it seems like these generally are sprayed on the leaves. I think I need to put something in the soil, but I'm afraid of damaging the roots of the plant.

Does anyone have any idea what these caterpillars might be or what I should do about them?

Thanks!

sangenuer

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Sangenuer,

Your caterpillars are probably some type of larvae or grub for a beetle or flying insect such as fungal gnats. Caterpillars are found on the foilage and not in the soil. Since you just repotted it I would suggest you remove all the soil and use fresh potting soil. Do be careful which potting soil you purchase as many now have slow release fertilizer already added. I suspect the grubs were in one of the bags of soil you used.

Newt

sangenuer
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Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Central Florida

I wondered if the grubs/caterpillars/whatever they are had come from the potting soil. I took a picture so you can see what I'm talking about. For scale, the white blobs are vermiculite--the creepy crawlies are about an inch long, I think.

[img]https://www.cockingfamily.com/images/IMG_5384.jpg[/img]

Can you give me any suggestions on how to know if the soil I'm buying is good? I just bought a bag of what they had at Home Depot. I did make sure the bag wasn't ripped open or anything. Are there certain brands that are better than others? I'm new to container gardening. Also, when you say remove all the soil, how "aggressively" should I clean the roots? Just give them a shake to knock the loose soil off, or hose them down?

Thanks so much for your advice. I've got something of a history of a black thumb, and I'm really trying not to kill this plant!

sangenuer

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Gosh, "a picture is worth a thousand words!" It looks like you have millipedes. No wonder you called them caterpillars. They eat decomposing organic matter and won't hurt your plants. You can pick them off with a tweezers and drop them in a jar of soapy water or even put them outside to do their 'work' in the garden. They probably came with the potting soil.

So now I will say you don't need to remove the soil from your plant! I'm sooo glad you posted that picture. Here's some info on centepedes and millipedes.
https://www.pestcontrolcanada.com/INSECTS/Centipedes.htm

As to potting soil brands, I tend to purchase off brands as most of those don't have the added synthetic fertilizers. They usually are mostly peat moss based and the lower priced ones are usually low in their perlite. I purchase a bag of perlite to mix into the potting soil. Miracle Gro actually makes an organic potting soil but it's often hard to find. I'm sure there are other companies who do the same.
https://www.miraclegro.com/index.cfm/event/ProductGuide.product/documentId/17bd42b914a93109d412861a09a95fa9

You might find this site about growing plants in containers helpful. There's more links on the left with more info.
https://www.ourgardengang.com/containerpotting.htm

Newt

sangenuer
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Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Central Florida

Oh, yay! I'm so glad to hear that I don't have to worry about these critters. As long as I know they're not going harm my plants I'm not going to worry about them... unless there's some reason that I should pick them out.

Thank you so much!

sangenuer

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Well, I wouldn't be too happy about them in my house, so I think you should show them where they can 'play' outdoors.

Newt

sangenuer
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Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Central Florida

Oh, I didn't make that clear--they are outside. The plant is in my brick courtyard between my townhouse and garage. I definitely would not want them in my house--ewww!!!! Just looking at the website you recommended gave me the heebie jeebies. But as long as they play nicely and stay in the pot outside I don't mind them.

Are they beneficial, or simply benign? Just curious.

sangenuer

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Since the pots are outside you could leave them alone to 'do their thing' and digest organic material. :) They are basically beneficial.

Newt

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