Writhing caterpillars

This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  bright123 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

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  • #56181

    bright123
    Participant

    Hi there,

    This summer is my first raising monarchs. In the last week or so, I’ve had a number of caterpillars suffer from what sounds like poisoning. They writhe on the ground until they eventually die. It is happening to large and healthy looking caterpillars and seems to come on suddenly. I have euthanised 6, which was very hard but I couldn’t bear to see them suffer any longer. I have another 6 suffering from the same condition today that I have rinsed and isolated in containers; one looks it will survive. The rest are very doubtful.

    I am perplexed as to the cause but have determined that the caterpillars on plants are fine, but those that venture over ground start to suffer, and I am pretty sure it’s centralised to one particular area of ground right in the center of the garden bed. We had a day of very bad weather that just preceded this and so I have a theory that I wanted to run passed to see if feasible? My suspicion is my cat has used the garden bed as it’s toilet (in fact I caught the darn thing doing just that this evening so this is confirmation of my suspicion). Could cat urine poison a caterpillar if it passed over the affected area later? He was given flea medication about 7-10 days preceding the poisoning, so I’m also thinking this is either being rubbed/shed as he passes through or perhaps it’s present in his urine – what do you think?

    Also if you have any advice about what to do, I’d love to know. I’m not sure whether it is kinder to euthanise or attempt to save.

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  • #56202

    bright123
    Participant

    Thank you for that LeslieD. I found it very encouraging and uplifting, and a good reminder to celebrate the good things. Just what I needed! 🙂

    #56186

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    unfortunately lots of bad things can and do happen to living creatures and butterflies seem to cop more than their share. So, yes celebrate the successes 🙂 we sure need them! It is lovely to see the butterflies in the garden, makes it worthwhile.

    #56185

    bright123
    Participant

    Hi there, thanks for that. I didn’t think of that, but had planted some new plants recently and the caterpillars have eaten their way through those happily enough but perhaps the potting mix has fertiliser in it, and that was washed to the surface during the heavy rain I mentioned… I ended up removing the top tool just in case (though I’m really just trying anything at this stage). Sadly the 6 caterpillars I isolated all languished further overnight. The one I had hoped woukd recover was looking ok at 1am but he had been throwing up a lot, by 6am he was a quarter of his size and convulsing/writhing like the others. I euthanised them all this morning. I am so gutted. No more writhing caterpillars this morning outside but time will tell… Two butterflies have emerged so I can take some comfort in that.

    #56183

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    I had a similar thing happen when I used thrive fertilizer a few years ago. But that was the caterpillars on the plants I fertilised that died. I kind of doubt that urine residue would do it … but I can’t state that as an authority. I’d be more inclined to think of a fertilizer on the ground. Sadly I don’t think you can do much to help them once they are poisoned.

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