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Help identifying this worm

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:46 pm
by Hobbyist
Hi, some kind of small caterpillar has set up shop in my container mint plant. Are there any gardeners out there who can tell me what it is? I've not encountered this little bugger before. It seems to prefer the tips of the mint. It eats some leaves, poops, and then curls one leaf into a protective covering that's surprisingly difficult to pry open and shelters there - at least during the day. I live in SE England and these guys appeared recently, probably within the last two weeks. Any advice on how to get rid of these worms would be wonderful. I was hoping to bring the mint inside and overwinter it by a sunny window :-()

Re: Help identifying this worm

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:57 pm
by applestar
I don't recognize it -- it might be an European species.

But how big is your plant? If not very big and not very many, all you have to do is keep plucking them off of the plant(s). Since they make a nest and not go hiding somewhere else, it will be easy to find them and capture. :wink:

Thorough search of underside of the leaves may reveal eggs, too. Just rub them off.

If you are not squeamish, simply squish them all with your fingers. If not up to doing that, wear gloves or use forceps or chopsticks, just drop them in container of soapy water to kill them.

Re: Help identifying this worm

Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:46 pm
by Susan W
I get the caterpillars from H on mint, thyme, oregano and more. When I was growing more herbs, mainly in large containers for the market, this was a constant frustration, and more. By the time I'd really notice, they were everywhere it seems! As 1st line, just pinch off those top leaves/stem and destroy. With one or two plants could then try the soap and water routine.

Next up is the Bt. With only a couple of plants and going into fall, probably would bypass that. I Bt a few of the containers, not harvest those for 1 -2 weeks, then move to next group. Repeat as needed. If a heavy infestation, cut back the plants to just a few inches.

Re: Help identifying this worm

Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:02 am
by ButterflyLady29
I couldn't find an exact match but there is a family of moths in Europe that have caterpillars that are similar. The Pyrausta family is the Mint Moth family. Pyrausta aurata looks very close to yours but according to wikipedia this is a very large family and not all caterpillars are pictured.

Re: Help identifying this worm

Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:05 pm
by Hobbyist
Thanks everyone for your help and expertise!

I've looked up the Mint Moth family. It's always good to learn something new. There are so many pests here in England (I'm a recent transplant myself) that it's hard to keep up with them all.

I'll give what you both suggest a try and pinch them off. I did notice that the one I picked off yesterday died rather quickly in water so the soap and water routine could be effective. Thanks again!