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Seeing much damage to Baptisia in 2012?

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#1 Janet Macunovich

Janet Macunovich


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Posted 22 August 2012 - 05:54 PM

Had this conversation by email and wonder if others are seeing much damage:

Re Worms feasting on Baptisia australis: In mid-July I first saw the 1 - 2 inch green and yellow worm making webs . It does not fit my recollection of a tent caterpillar but nonetheless I need advice ! Thanks, I would appreciate your input. Jane

Hi Jane
The native broom moth (a.k.a. Genista broom moth, sophora moth caterpillar) eats Baptisia and almost any member of the legume family. If you look up images for Uresiphita reversalis you can compare those images to what you see, and know if that's the culprit. (Another candidate is mimosa webworm, Homadaula anisocentra, an exotic Asian pest recently established in southern MI.) Although I don't think you'd describe this pest's color as green and yellow. Worth looking though.



If a Baptisia is defoliated this late in the summer it really won't faze the plant. You could cut it down before the caterpillars finish eating, thereby denying them food to finish their development. That'll leave a visual hole in the garden but many times we prefer void to chewed plant...

Then watch for the plants next year in mid-June, tinier, earlier in their life cycle, simpler to knock off and kill (simplest control; insecticidal sprays also work but only well before they produce much protective webbing.) Not much you can do until then.

Hi Janet Thanks for your help. The caterpillar does look like the ones on the photos. I have never seen the broom moth but I am sure you are right it is Uresiphita reversalis. I will try Bt and see what happens. This Baptisia has been in the garden for at least 15 years with nary a problem. Such a wonderful growing year we are having... Jane

Indeed, a growing year for the record books in MANY ways!
Bt is usually most effective on early-instar caterpillars. If you use it, will love to hear the results as others will ask. (We'd never gotten a question on this Baptisia pest before, although we saw it at work in a NC garden once so we had seen it. But since you emailed, TWO other people from this area did. So it could be one of those pests we'll only see when the winter is mild enough for them to survive here, or it's warm enough in March, or something.)

#2 Beaufort



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Posted 29 August 2012 - 04:50 PM

Janet, just for your records, no buggy problems on my fat and happy Baptisia. Yet.

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