A few weeks ago, I started to notice that my normally beautiful delphiniums were not thriving like they usually do. Something was eating them and also using them for a baby bug nursery.
I thought it was maybe aphids or some kind of fly, so I tried an organic spray that I had been given. Everyday I sprayed every inch of my delphiniums. I did this for an entire week and there was NO difference. There was also zero activity on my rose that is right next to the delphiniums. So I looked a little closer and there was little caterpillars covering both plants. The little buggers were the exact same colour as the plant. So I went to the internet and tried to find out what these caterpillars were, and what was the best course of action.
My best guess is that they are delphinium worms or ‘delphinium leaftiers”. They are the caterpillar of the Golden Plusia Moth. Apparently there is not much chemically that will be as effective as just picking them off and squishing them one by one.
They overwinter in the stems of last years growth, and since I typically just leave my plants standing all winter instead of trimming them back to soil level in the Fall; That is likely why I have a big problem this spring. So I will try to get my delphiniums all tidied up this fall, so there is no home for the worms this time around.
Now that it has been a couple weeks of squishing every caterpillar that I see, my plants are starting to come back. I ended up cutting everything back to the base because of how bad the caterpillar infestation was. Then I grabbed a set of gloves and got to squishing. Don’t squish them near your face, because they are quite explosive, and you’ll be covered in electric-green coloured caterpillar guts. Not that I speak from (multiple) experience ;). Now I just check on the plants at least once a day to squish any caterpillars that have surfaced. I used a pair of the thicker nitrile grease monkey gloves, and just hose them off and re-use them.
I don’t anticipate my plants being able to flower this year, but I do think I saved them from destruction. I wish I hadn’t tried the spray I had been given, and just started squishing things from the beginning, but now I know for the next time.
Not many photos, because I wasn’t intending on blogging about this whole situation. Mostly because I thought my poor beautiful delphiniums wouldn’t pull through. Now that they are, I feel confident in sharing my squishing technique. Sorry Golden Plusia Moth, but you are going to have to find a safer home for your next generation.