I’ve been keeping both eyes on the angled loofah plant ever since caterpillars started feasting on the flower buds several weeks ago. They seemed to have given up, so I was happy – especially as the two vines grew bigger and started branching out and producing more female flowers. In the last week, I was quite happy to have helped pollinate no less than 5 female flowers. Everything was going well and the fruits were growing at what seems to be their phenomenal rate of growth.
Then, two days ago, I noticed some tiny black caterpillar droppings on a leaf. Looking upwards, I saw one of those dastardly green inchworm-like caterpillars on the underside of a leaf. I disposed of it and checked for more siblings, but didn’t see any. Of course, that didn’t mean there weren’t any.
Then, yesterday, I noticed that the ridges on one of my baby loofahs were broken. A caterpillar had been eating the outside of the fruit! And the culprit was still there! Using a fallen leaf, I tried to nudge it away, and wouldn’t you know it, the caterpillar was busy burrowing into the fruit! After dislodging it, a nice, round hole stared back at me. There was nothing to do but remove that fruit, because I didn’t know if there were more pests inside it, and I didn’t want it to sap growing energy from the vine. It irritated me that one of my babies had been ravaged like that.
A scrutiny of the area revealed two more caterpillars – both on the clusters of male flower buds. These creatures have the best colour camouflage ever – it’s almost impossible to spot them! So now I have to double my checks, in case any of the other fruits are compromised. Why can’t things just go smoothly?