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Notes from Garden and Life

  • Writer's picturesubhashini

Attenborough moments in life

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

One of the perks of having a garden is the occasional experience of 'David Attenborough moments.' Yesterday, I watched a BBC video about a leaf-rolling caterpillar in the Amazon rainforest. It neatly semi-cuts a leaf and rolls it into a tent using silk hinges. Attenborough describes the marvel that is a caterpillar.

I've seen a caterpillar roll a leaf before. Remember the banana plant leaf roller? When I unrolled the leaf to take a closer look, the caterpillar quickly moved and re-rolled itself. It seemed to dislike being exposed.

This time, there's another leaf roller but on the hibiscus plant. It is called the Haritalodes derogata moth. I had a real 'Attenborough moment' while watching a wasp try to capture the caterpillar. The clever caterpillar dropped to another leaf to hide, while the wasp searched the ground and eventually left. You can spot the caterpillar falling halfway through the video.

It is extremely challenging to eradicate these caterpillars. Even the wasp had difficulty capturing it.

Any insecticide that is sprayed falls on the leaf, not on the caterpillar. Therefore, the best way to eliminate them is to manually remove the leaves. This deprives them of the nutrition the leaves provide. Spraying the leaves with pongam+ neem oil after removing the rolled leaves keeps the larva at bay.

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