Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Let's set the scene of the crime.

August 4:

August 5:


The usual suspects?
Flea beetles eat leaves, but I haven't seen them eat that quickly. They leave little holes that are perfect circles. Cabbage moths also eat leaves but leave ragged edges. Again, though, I haven't seen them eat a whole plant in a day.  Maybe it was another creature with a voracious appetite...

When I looked closer, I saw a black head lift up out of the dirt, making a dash for the edge of the pot. I scooped it up and tossed it in the compost before I thought to get a picture. Fortunately, blogger and photographer Rob has taken some gorgeous pictures of various critters at

And Rob even does his research. Please meet Spodoptera Ornithogalli, commonly known as armyworm (though it's actually a caterpillar). It's a truly elegant little creature, camouflaged black with racing stripes down its back. Apparently its good looks are enough to let it get away with murder. (Or, I'm just squeamish about killing anything larger than an ant.) Still, if it finds its way back to my basil pots, it will not survive to tell the tale.

What pests are you dealing with this summer? And on a scale of 1 to 10, how pretty are they?