6 Jun 2013

Balcony bug

Sweet Rocket Caterpillar


Can you see him?  I have a sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) growing in a large pot on my balcony. It's a biennial which means that I've had to wait two years to see it flower.  The flowers are edible, beautiful and sweetly perfumed in the evening.  To keep the plant flowering, I deadhead as the flowers fade and was doing exactly that when I spied this little pale green creature, basking in a pool of sunshine on one of the stems.  I can't see any munch marks in the leaves so presume he hasn't started feeding on this plant yet.  As the plant is part of the brassica family, its leaves are very attractive to caterpillars; the nectar in the flowers is a delicious bonus.  Apparently they're also partial to a nice lettuce leaf and I have lots of salad leaves growing on the balcony for my salad challenge.

I'm afraid he has to go as I don't want my plant decimated.  I'll pop him downstairs when I go; there are plenty of cabbages that have gone to seed and seem to have been abandoned by a 'gardening' neighbour - I think the little caterpillar will be very happy there!

12 comments:

  1. Caro, you're too soft! I wouldn't be so charitable. Caterpillars = Butterflies = More Caterpillars = more threats to my veggies. I'd squish it!

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    1. Hah! I'm not easy going when it comes to slugs, snails and aphids, Mark! I just like the idea of caterpillars becoming butterflies one day so they get a pass to freedom! And there's always nets for the veggies ... !! ;)

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  2. I like the fact that you didn't despatch him, good for you, mind you I think I might have put him on the bird table!

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    1. At least you would have been going with the flow of nature, Pauline! I leave my squished snails out for the birds, it makes me feel easier about removing them from the veg garden

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  3. Gosh, he's very well camouflaged isn't he? He would make a lovely snack for my chickens!

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    1. Hi Jules, Yes, I can't quite believe that I actually spotted him! I found another a couple of days later, this time on a mint plant so I don't know quite how they managed to get up here! Do you feed snails and slugs to your chickens? I think they'd probably find those tasty too!

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  4. They get everywhere don't they. Good for you! Flighty xx

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    1. Sadly, yes they do, Flighty! And where would we be without butterflies - of whichever variety! C xx

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  5. He/she looks like a small white. You're lucky a large white butterfly wasn't responsible as they lays eggs in bathes not ones! I wonder what it has been eating as it doesn't look like a newborn!

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    1. Hi Sue! I wondered the same and had a good look round but couldn't spot any damage. He was quite large (for a small green caterpillar!) so I'm puzzled as to how he arrived on my balcony, especially as that area is netted off against pigeons! I found another similar caterpillar a day or two later so I hope that's the end of it now!

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  6. I'm too squeamish to squish, but I would have just chucked him off the balcony to take his chances... I am about to sow some Sweet Rocket for next year, I love it, such a beautiful plant for this time of year.

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    1. Janet, I was going downstairs anyway so it was no trouble to transplant him to another spot. (Otherwise, he may well have experienced a bit of air travel!!) You've reminded me to resow for next year - it's worth the wait to get the flowers!

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Caro x

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