Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies. They come in various colors and patterns, depending on their species. Some are hairy, while others are not. They generally range in length from 1/4 to 2-1/2 inches. Many Caterpillars specialize in other plants but will feed on African Violets when their preferred food source is unavailable. If left untreated, many Caterpillars will strip your African Violet of its leaves.
Common species known to feed on African Violets include Armyworms, Fruitworms and Loopers.
If your African Violet has this symptom, it is probably being attacked by Caterpillars.
If possible, remove Caterpillars by hand. If not, treat with Acephate (as directed on the label). Acephate is available in household insect sprays. However, many of these sprays contain a specific additive which may damage the foliage of African Violets. Therefore, if available, use a soluble powder, and mix your own spray.
As an alternative to traditional chemical treatments, try spraying with Neem (Azadirachtin). Neem is a substance which has natural insecticidal properties, and according to currently available research, it is biodegradable and non-toxic. When sprayed on African Violets, it discourages Caterpillars by making the plant unpalatable. Though Neem does have some systemic effect in plants, spray it as you would other contact insecticides, being sure to cover those areas of the plant where Caterpillars tend to cluster.
When working outside, always change clothes before working with indoor plants. Caterpillars may get trapped in clothing and remain there until they get access to your Violets. Also, beware of moths which have become trapped indoors. They may be carrying eggs.
Important Note on the Use of Pesticides
Please note that almost all pesticides are formulated for specific uses and conditions. When applied incorrectly, pesticides can cause ill health or damage to plants. Therefore, when using any kind of pesticide or chemical treatment, always apply as indicated on the product label.
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