Attenborough moments in life
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
One of the perks of having a garden is occasionally experiencing David Attenborough moments. Yesterday, I watched a BBC video of a leaf-rolling caterpillar in the Amazonian rainforest. It neatly semi-cuts a leaf and rolls it with silk hinges into a tent. Attenborough describes the wonder that is a caterpillar.
I have witnessed a caterpillar rolling a leaf before. You recall the banana plant leaf roller, correct? When I unrolled the leaf to examine it, the caterpillar moved quite quickly and rolled itself. It disliked being exposed. This time, another leaf roller is present on the hibiscus plant. It is the Haritalodes derogata moth. I did have an Attenborough moment while observing a wasp attempting to capture the caterpillar. The astute caterpillar dropped to another leaf and hid while the wasp searched the ground and left the area. The caterpillar can be seen falling halfway through the video.
It is extremely challenging to eradicate these caterpillars. Even the wasp has difficulty capturing it.
Any insecticide that is sprayed falls on the leaf, not 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.