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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Hummingbird moth caterpillars

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Question
HI Eric,
I found a large green Hummingbird moth caterpillar attached to my super bell flowers.  There were small pebble size droppings around my flower pot.  How can I keep them out and stop them from ruining my container flowers.  Please advise.

Answer
Melanie:

I do not dispense pest control advice.  I'm sure there is another AllExperts category for that in fact, but....

Simply picking off the caterpillars by hand when you see them (or signs of them as you describe with the droppings) is the best way because it is not that labor intensive, is inexpensive (free, in fact), and you can even give the caterpillar to a kid to raise to be a moth or something.  You might have the best luck going out after dark with a flashlight.  Most caterpillars and other insects feed at night and hide during the day.

I know it can take some doing to spot even a very large caterpillar on a small plant, but it is good exercise and I personally enjoy the challenge.  Just my two cents.

Cheers,

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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