Chewing pests

caterpillarCaterpillars are the larval stages of moths and butterflies. They cause damage by feeding on plant leaves. The adults feed on pollen and nectar. Color and size will vary, depending on the species.

Caterpillars remove plant parts during feeding, creating irregular or rounded holes in leaves and flower buds. Frass (fecal deposits) are typically present near damaged tissues. Herbaceous perennials are susceptible to a variety of caterpillar types.

saddleback caterpillar caterpillar
Many types of caterpillars feed on herbaceous perennials, including cutworms, corn earworms, imported cabbageworms, diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, saddleback caterpillars and American lady caterpillars.


Remove weeds and plant debris from adjacent areas. Applying an insecticide derived from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki is effective on young larvae feeding on plant leaves. Contact insecticides are also effective. Scout regularly using yellow sticky cards, which attract the adults.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.