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perezjuanf

Caterpillar in my Passion flower vine

perezjuanf
9 years ago

I have started growing passifloras in my backyard and I am noticing orange with black spikes caterpillars I been advise to use Thuricide BT but since I know that these caterpillar produce a beautiful butterfly, before I start exterminating them I would like to ask how long will I suffer this infestation

thanks

Comments (86)

  • Diane Coffey Tomlinson
    6 years ago


    Diane's ideas · More Info

  • Diane Coffey Tomlinson
    6 years ago

    This helps with my stripped down to just the vines passion flowers. If you don't want to beat them, join them! I love the butterflies! Serves as a bit of education as well!

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  • bevjimh22
    6 years ago

    Diane - I LOVE your idea! No one would come close enough to read it at our house, as my passion vine is on the end of a cul de sac, and few drive there. I plant the maypop (wild type) now, not for the flowers, as they are pretty, but not showy anyway. We do have a National Wildlife Federation sign up, in case anyone wonders about our "messy, weedy" backyard, and a Butterfly Crossing sign in the front yard. If our neighbors complain about all the butterflies we generate here, we have not heard it. Right now there are 7 species flittering around on many days. I cannot imagine a world without butterflies. Good advice to the few who cannot stand to see the "terrors -?" was to plant flowers that caterpillars do not like to eat. But please, DO NOT POISON them. It does kill so much more than just the butterflies. And for those who like bees, plant heather - but only if no one in your household is allergic to bee venom - because they will flock to it. (I wonder what heather honey tastes like?) And do not feed caterpillars to birds. Some are toxic, by creation, to keep birds from eating them! Here's to happy co-existing!

  • Karen (10b-South FL) #makingadiff4life
    6 years ago

    I planted passion vines to attract butterfly/caterpillars and after a few months I saw caterpillars but then a lizard started eating them all. Luckily, I took some in before they were eaten and as I put vine cuttings in the enclosure, babies would appear! Compared to Monarchs, there are so easy. Loving them <3

  • Iris S (SC, Zone 7b)
    6 years ago

    I am still having dozens of caterpillars, but you can hardly notice any damage on the vines. One of them is not like the other...

  • Karen (10b-South FL) #makingadiff4life
    6 years ago

    I agree, nothing like Monarchs that reduce milkweed to just stems in days and indoors I only have to bring in a cutting a day.

  • Jorielle Belanger
    6 years ago

    I had tons of caterpillers and now i have no leaves so i moved the remaining caterpillers on to other plants. Probably hav 30 or so cocoons on my vines. Just wondering if i should cut back my vines some or leave it. Will it get thicker after or will it keep growing only on the main stems. This is my 1st year with pasiion flower and i just dont know. 2 of my vines are from seed, almost a yr old. And 1 is from a cutting. The 2 vines are about 10 feet tall. And the cutting is about a foot and a half. Should i cut back a stem or 2, or all or just leave it?

  • Karen (10b-South FL) #makingadiff4life
    6 years ago

    Cutting about 6 inches off the top has helped it spread better. Just have to be careful not to cut any main vines since they sprout all over. This is my first year too, I bought 4 small plants online and 2 from the local nursery. Great job with all the chrysalis'!!! Wow!

  • Sami Bates
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I am surrounded by my passion vine, caterpillars, chrysalis, and butterflies. This is our first year to get the cats and I'm obsessed with the fast life cycle and beautiful butterflies! I had 2 come out their chrysalis this morning. It was so neat to watch with the kids. We have an infestation of cats, but have a pretty large, strong, wild vine. Are they year round? I could see it being a problem of so. I can't help but love watching them crawl up the wall hang upside down and then emerge as such beautiful butterflies!

  • Phyllis Reilly
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago


    As you can see from the picture, the butterfly and all the baby caterpillars on my passion flower vine. I just love these butterfly's and they don't kill the plant. I have had mine now for 3 seasons and they always bounce back in the fall/winter (I live in Charleston SC). I am happy to offer them this host plant!

  • Tom
    6 years ago

    Hey, Sami, it's good to see your photos. They look healthy. Enjoy them for now, because they will disappear when the weather turns cold. If you get a freeze or a frost I think that will be it. Hopefully they will be with you for a while and then you should see them again in the late spring.

  • sam_md
    5 years ago


    This pic was taken today in Maryland. The vines are incredibly rank and vigorous. A few caterpillars here and there don't bother me and I welcome them.

  • Iris S (SC, Zone 7b)
    5 years ago

    I am just having a few little gulf fritillary caterpillars so far. The variegated ones are out in full force, but they do prefer the wild violets this year for some reason. My vines are ready though.

  • Shayne Palmer
    5 years ago

    I have always loved butterflies, all of them. Last year, while working various project sites as a project manager, I lucked up and found a half dozen beautiful chrysalises on a fence and surrounding bare vines. Turned out to be Zebra Longwings (the Gold spots were amazing). I took them home to hatch out the butterflies. At the same time, I did some research to find out what the host plant was for this species. Upon learning it was members of the Passion flower family, and more importantly, that a wild species called "Maypop" (which I had seen many times) was one of the preferred host plants, I immediately sent out to hunt down this native.

    I first visited the the same place I had found the Chrysalises, only to find that this poor specimen would likely need some recovery time, as it was sporting very little foliage. A week later I lucked up and found a large concentration of the vine growing over the remains of a dilapidated shed on a property we were to clear. I had no idea it would be so hard to find the root end of the vines, and then dig it up without damage. I finally managed to get 3 (quite a pain to unbraid the vines from the mass). I protected what I had of the rooted ends with wet rags and gently laid the vines out in the bed of my Ford.

    The coolest part of this find was that I found nearly 2 dozen orange (turned out to be Gulf's) and nearly as many white and black Zebra Longwing caterpillars, all varying in size from 1/2" to nearly 1 1/2". I carefully plucked every one I could find, then proceeded with my grand idea.

    My wife and I, (as well as our teenage daughter and youngest adult son), live on a couple of acres with a large chain link fence at the entrance to our drive. I cleared the ground around a fairly tall wild orange tree I had transplanted a year before up against the fence (for the giant swallow tails), and planted the vines. I tied the vines to the fence hoping they would finish the job later, and then covered the soil where I was attempting to re-root the vines with a cypress bark mulch and white plastic (to keep in the moisture, but white to reflect the Fl sun). I also always water tough transplants with fish tank water infused with a bit of "Rootone".

    I transferred all of the smaller caterpillars to the new vines, but kept the larger ones to grow out indoors (I found that I can wrap extra cuttings from almost any host plant in moist rags and store them fresh for weeks in the fridge). I then played the waiting game, making sure that myself or someone watered the vines on the days we had little rain.

    Most of the original Zebra's hatched out, all of the large cats from the transplant turned, and now, a year later, the vines have come back up with a vengeance! We now have hundreds of butterflies on the property, including the swallowtails and some viceroys from my willow project, but that's another story.


  • Paul Ayick
    5 years ago

    OK so some of you value the plant over the butterflies and others are vice-versa. My neighbor had some nice vines on her South Florida fence and we had Zebras by the hundreds however the vine is now decimated no flowers or butterflies. So how to control them so this does not happen on the 8 vines I just planted on a 8' trellis of my own design? I want cats, butterflies AND healthy vines.


  • Tom
    5 years ago

    Shane, where do you live? I'm thinking somewhere in Florida, because the Zebra Longwings aren't common much further north than Northern Florida or perhaps southern parts of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Although with the warm weather perhaps they are now further north.

    Careful with the Maypops. They can be invasive.

    I have a number of different passionvines. The fritillaries lay their eggs on the vines that are in the sun, mostly. The Zebras like the shade.

    Paul, you can only hope to have both nice vines and also caterpillars. In reality, it's often feast or famine with the butterflies. Right now I have some vines that are totally defoliated and others with few caterpillars and probably a few with none.

  • kre8itnow
    5 years ago


    Last week these vines were plush with green leaves. Then came the Gulf Frit cats. How long does it take the vine to recover?

  • Iris S (SC, Zone 7b)
    5 years ago

    Mine never looked that bad. Even after probably 2 dozen caterpillars at a time. How many did you have? I accidentally posted a text message intended for my daughter here, hope the delete works. I just had two cows (!) running up the road in front of my house. What an event....

  • Billie White
    5 years ago

    I enjoy both the plant and the butterflies. I have a dense forest right behind me so the cats can get way out of hand. I eyeball them. If there are so many that i see 3 or more in every area then i pluck every other one up and either, feed them to my chickens or, put them in the bird feeder. My chickies dont really like them but the birds eat them. Iv also noticed black wasp eat them off the vine. But never enough to put a dent in the poppulation.


    But to everyone whos had their vine decimated, passion vines are very hardy, you can cut them almost to the base and they will recover. So no worries ; 3

  • Tom
    5 years ago

    kre8itnow the vines will start recovering within a few weeks--depending, of course in what zone you are in. I have vines in many different places, but I have one that looked like yours and it started coming back in about three weeks. It came back at the same time in different places on the vine, bottom, top and in the middle. I'm in Zone 9B, so you need to factor that in also. It looks like yours are in full sun, so if they get decent water they should start coming back soon.

  • Diane Klekotka
    5 years ago

    I bought my Passion vines for Zebra Longwings. It turns out I can’t seem to keep up with the Gulf Fritillaries. I love watching them. They make for great cat tv outside the window. Any way to encourage the vines to grow faster?

  • Iris S (SC, Zone 7b)
    5 years ago

    How long ago have you planted them? Mine struggled for the first two years, now they are taking over the world and even the dozens of caterpillars can't stop them. I am not doing anything to encourage them. I have one that stays evergreen for me most years and Lady Margaret and a purple one freeze to the ground and come back stronger every year.

  • Tom
    5 years ago

    Diane, like most plants the more water, sun and the right fertilizer help the plants to grow faster. The Zebras like vines that are in the shade, mostly, while the fritillaries prefer to visit vines that are in the sun.

    In Florida it makes sense to put in time-release fertilizer in the hole and covered by some dirt before the plant is put into the ground. This is because we have very sandy soil without much nutrition for the roots. In any case it makes sense to use organic fertilizers, in my opinion, since they usually don't burn the roots and have useful microbes included.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    5 years ago

    Diane, you can promote more growth of established passionvines
    in form of branching.
    One branching by shaping a moderately sharp inverted U in the middle
    of a long stem that you route horizontally along something.
    Multiple branchings, over time, just by having vine grow into a
    bush or tree that has many branches.

    By digging the small sprouts, you can accomplish two things:
    the main plant keeps all the resources; and the sprouts, planted into pots, develop under enhanced conditions and regular attention.

  • c b
    4 years ago

    Apparently I have both the passion fruit vine the babies love and three different kinds of Lantana for the butterflies. I don't mind sacrificing my leaves on a vigorous vine to provide gorgeous butterflies a place to play! They stay the whole summer and I love it! My vines still look fine! In the daytime my yard is covered with


  • Anita Brandon
    4 years ago

    I had mine for a few months. Gave some to a frien. Hers were growing like crazy. Mine stayed about 2 inches tall. She took mine to her house for a month. I got them back and they were over 2 feet tall. You can only get to her house by boat. She lives on North Pass ( I have a camp there) and it feeds into Lake Ponchatrain. Now its over 8 Foot tall. No flowers yet. My mom said it wouldnt the first year and thats okay. I just joined this site a few minutes ago and am so glad i did. I saw little caterpillars on it. I cut the limb with the most and tossed it in the side yard. Then got on here to see what to do about them. I dont like poisons. Sooo, it looks like i dont need to do anything but let them munch away.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago

    Go now, put the cut end into water. Yes, I know that it is dark outsided now.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago

    Go now, put the cut end into water. Yes I know that it is dark outside now.

  • Jay 6a Chicago
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Passionflowers and Gulf Frits and Zebra Longwings all evolved together. Nature intended it to be that way. Since the beginning we were meant to see the beauty of them living together. A passionflower that's not allowed to give life to another species is a dead, useless passionflower. I didn't get mad when the Monarch cats ate my beautiful swan and tropical milkweeds down to sticks. I was happy. And I'll be happy when the deer eat all my beautiful nasturtiums ( probably tomorrow morning). Any flower sprayed with BT is ugly and poison in my book! Patience is a gift, and a virtue. Lifes caterpillars sometimes eat all our foliage. We need patience and trust that the leaves will grow back, and that takes time. I'm not able to grow passionvines in my zone, and I wish I could, because I would love to see it covered with caterpillars, so it saddens me when I hear people complaining about the cats eating theirs.

  • MissSherry
    4 years ago

    Me, too, Jay! Who wouldn't just LOVE to have caterpillars eating their vines, knowing what gorgeous butterflies they make. Passionvines were indeed made for longwing butterflies! Today I released 7 gulf frits, there are many more chrysalides in the cages (and a few cats still eating) and the vines are covered with cats, soon won't be any leaves left on them, just as it should be.


    Sherry

  • Karen (10b-South FL) #makingadiff4life
    4 years ago

    I found my first Julia Caterpillar on my passionvine! Excited. Realized my cats do better in containers.

  • Paul Ayick
    4 years ago

    The Zebra cats here proliferate so quickly they decimate and kill the plant so I remove most but not all of them. A dead plant benefits nothing.


  • Jay 6a Chicago
    4 years ago

    Paul, where are you located? Was just wondering where all the Zebras are.

  • Paul Ayick
    4 years ago

    S.E. Florida near Ft. Lauderdale Jay

  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago

    Established plants?
    Established passionvines doe not die as result of mechanical defoliation.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago

    Established plants?
    Established passionvines doe not die as result of
    mechanical defoliation.

  • Paul Ayick
    4 years ago

    yup my neighbor had them growing along his fence they took them down to nothing never came back unless he did something I don't know about.




  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Both of my neighbors obviously apply herbicides;

    MY side became barren the entire lengths of both fences.

    Perchance are you an herbicide appier?.

    Another thing is that the roots of these often are far from the foliage,

    and inadvertentlly are severed by digging.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    4 years ago

    Both of my neighbors obviously apply herbicides;
    MY side became barren the entire length of both fences.
    Perchance are you an herbicide applier?

    Another thing is that the roots of these things often are far from the foliage,
    and can be severed inadvertently when digging.

  • Paul Ayick
    4 years ago

    I will ask them to see if they applied any herbicides . I just recall when I looked at them there were Zebra cats by the hundreds and the leaves all disappeared in a couple of weeks and the plants never came back.

  • Jo Ramsey Stratton
    3 years ago

    I live in northern California. I have a used to be beautiful full of leaves passion vine that I adore. The caterpillars have eaten all the leaves and, it looks terrible. Do I cut the plant all the way back or just leave it alone???? I LOVE the Butterflies so much but hate what they do to the plant... HELP I just want to know should i cut it down or leave it alone????

    This is my vine now ! :(

    This is my vine before caterpillar ate it all :)

  • Tom
    3 years ago

    I would say leave it alone and give it water and perhaps some organic fertilizer. I also suggest a moderate approach with caterpillars. If you see that there are too many, pick them off. A totally defoliated plant with starve most of the cats. Also, is it possible to plant more vines somewhere else? If you plant them in the sun the Zebras aren't as likely to lay eggs on them--the fritillaries will however.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Agree about not removing all at this time of year, because branches that remain green may regrow leaves. Some branches instead gradually will turn brown; remove them early in the decline, because they never recover. Also, if long green branches are shortened, then the growth and maintenance resources are not stretched thin (far).

    As for more vines, they could stay forever in large pots, if desired.

  • Stephanie, 9b inland SoCal
    3 years ago

    I adore the Gulf Fritillary butterflies! My neighbors had 2 passion vines on the wood lattice topper on our shared wall. Both ornamental, no fruit. One was the classic purple flower and the other was a red flower that was more bell shaped and produced nectar that meant it was always full of ants. Well we always saw butterflies flitting about but never caterpillars. I think the ants ate them as soon as they hatched. Well the lattice was rotten and new neighbors moved in who sweetly asked if it was OK to remove it. We were more than happy since we wanted to replace wood with steel topper. But then I seriously missed the butterflies. I saw zero for a year. I missed them so much I planted a passion vine on the shared wall of the other neighbors. Just the purple flower that doesn’t have nectar so it won’t attract ants. Well for the first time in a year, I see not only butterflies but larva! I plan to cut it back to the “trunk“ each winter so it doesn’t get out of control this time. This vine is incredibly vigorous and could completely cover a carport if you let it. I don’t care about the flowers which are always there or the look of the vine, which is always green with chew holes, but my heart sings when every day I sit in the patio surrounded by the fluttering of beautiful amber butterflies. Usually 2 or 3 but sometimes 7 or 8 as I also provide nectar flowers for them. For me, the whole point of the vine is the butterflies.


  • Stephanie, 9b inland SoCal
    3 years ago

    I will train it across the wood part next year.

  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    2 years ago

    STOP! Those are Gulf Frits they are not pest! They turn into pretty butterflys!

  • Mars SC Zone 8b Mars
    2 years ago

    I have a passionfruit vine.

  • Patricia M Sanchez
    last year

    Hi there, I just bought my passion vine and noticed baby caterpillars, what do I need to do to protect the caterpillar? Will they survive outside or do I have to bring them indoors? I live in Florida

  • four (9B near 9A)
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Wasps, lizards, and ants get them. Indoors would be simplest; effective outdoors protection measures are more involved.

  • Tom
    last year

    Hey, Patricia, they live and reproduce outside, which is why you have caterpillars in the first place. You can improve the odds if you know how to take care of caterpillars (cage, feeding, cleaning, releasing, etc.) The only thing I do now is move caterpillars from one plant to another if I see that they are consuming one plant and there is more growth on another.

    What color are the cats? If they are orange they are Gulf Fritillaries; if spotted black they are Zebra Longwings.

    Are you going to put the plant in the ground? If so, check it regularly to see what it needs. Often we find we need to put in more vines for them to feed on.