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Caterpillars/Bugs Eating Strap Leaves


JDH23
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Hey all,

I just noticed today while watering my Sabal Minor ‘McCurtain’ seedlings that a few of the seedlings had some holes in their strap leaves. I panicked a bit, as the two with the most damage are growing next to my fastest growing seedling, and I immediately researched what could be the problem. A few posts on here about similar damage to palms mentioned the possibility of really small caterpillars/bugs being a possible culprit and, sure enough, on the seedling with the most damage I noticed a VERY small caterpillar (or at least I think that’s what it was) and quickly squashed it. I’ve attached pictures of the damage and the best photo of the bug I could get for context. 
 

FEB07250-DE9C-424A-BDCD-F8D1481B5A53.thumb.jpeg.70f3b8a7beca40161c11947ce1824cbb.jpegBBF17233-392F-42AF-A84F-171AA9C0BAAC.thumb.jpeg.15500ddf4d54ab78d83c8826254baec8.jpeg19B11BC9-1A4E-4D90-92FC-510B5B2CFA83.jpeg.278fb158e56247ebaf65a6b416ef3437.jpeg
 

So, I think I’ve determined the problem but I’m not unsure of what to do next. I’ve only located the one caterpillar, so I guess one of my questions is this one of those situations where if you find one there’s more? Additionally, how can I treat/prevent this from happening again? The palms are growing in a small greenhouse with a bug net so I thought I had sufficient protection, but evidently the caterpillar found his way in. I currently have a bottle of horticultural spray oil that I purchased over the winter due to a mealybug scare I had with my other palms, so I’m curious if this could work. A80186AC-5B5C-4BAA-B602-4BAAD70D6201.thumb.jpeg.1a077cdf503f2999a09d31798f3f1f19.jpeg


Any and all replies are much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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5 hours ago, JDH23 said:

Hey all,

I just noticed today while watering my Sabal Minor ‘McCurtain’ seedlings that a few of the seedlings had some holes in their strap leaves. I panicked a bit, as the two with the most damage are growing next to my fastest growing seedling, and I immediately researched what could be the problem. A few posts on here about similar damage to palms mentioned the possibility of really small caterpillars/bugs being a possible culprit and, sure enough, on the seedling with the most damage I noticed a VERY small caterpillar (or at least I think that’s what it was) and quickly squashed it. I’ve attached pictures of the damage and the best photo of the bug I could get for context. 
 


 

So, I think I’ve determined the problem but I’m not unsure of what to do next. I’ve only located the one caterpillar, so I guess one of my questions is this one of those situations where if you find one there’s more? Additionally, how can I treat/prevent this from happening again? The palms are growing in a small greenhouse with a bug net so I thought I had sufficient protection, but evidently the caterpillar found his way in. I currently have a bottle of horticultural spray oil that I purchased over the winter due to a mealybug scare I had with my other palms, so I’m curious if this could work. 


Any and all replies are much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

I just had caterpillars trying to cause problems but if you don't have too many palms or plants then you can run your fingers over the strap leaves and check them daily and spray neem oil which worked for me, I also sprinkled diatomaceous earth around my plants where they sit but checking daily and spraying is the best solution to ensure none slip by! I'm sure somebody else probably knows more than me if you have a lot!

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@ZPalms has good advice. I would add that you could spray seedlings with insecticidal soap. Be careful with horticultural oil. If you use be sure to move seedlings out of full sun. Years ago I fried a bunch of Dypsis sp seedlings by treating them with the oil, then placing them in the sun at a yard sale. I ended up killing some of them and set back the survivors for over a year. Please don't fry your Sabals

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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6 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

@ZPalms has good advice. I would add that you could spray seedlings with insecticidal soap. Be careful with horticultural oil. If you use be sure to move seedlings out of full sun. Years ago I fried a bunch of Dypsis sp seedlings by treating them with the oil, then placing them in the sun at a yard sale. I ended up killing some of them and set back the survivors for over a year. Please don't fry your Sabals

I always do this after the sun goes down or when its dark outside so by morning it's all dry :D

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Agreed.

Do not use dormant oil.

Neem, soap, BT spray, spinosad.

All these are helpful. I've had budworms this year munching on some sabal seedlings. Pesky little baby butterflies! 

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