Friend or Foe?
Today we identified a caterpillar on our Baptisia or Blue False Indigo plants.
This cute critter is known as a Genista Broom Month. It gets its name from the Broom Plant, Genista, in which it feeds. It is native to the United States and is prominent in the Southern U.S. In some places, the Broom Plant is invasive so the caterpillar is considered beneficial; however, as adorable as it is now, this little creature has a voracious appetite and can cause serious damage to Blue False Indigo and several other plants in the bean family (Fabaceae).
The damage caused to Baptisia includes browning and twisting leaves that have a webbed appearance from the caterpillar feeding. Also webbing between leaves is often apparent. This is from the young caterpillars who live as a group until they get a little older and wander off by themselves. If you find this insect on your shrubs, it is a good idea to pick them off or to use a insecticide such as Spinosad. Be sure to read the label before applying any chemicals. Hopefully you won’t find this little critter, but now you know what to look for if you do!
Work Cited: Penn State Extension Publication <http://extension.psu.edu/plants/green-industry/news/2012/pest-alert-genista-broom-moth>