Caixin pests

Caixin plants had a growth spurt when placed in a new location with more sunlight

As a follow-up to my earlier post on growing caixin, I wanted to share that yes, caixin plants grow much better when they get more sunlight. What I didn’t expect to share was information about pests that are attracted to the plants. If you don’t like creepy-crawlies, you may want to skip this post, because even I went ewww

My 6 caixin plants are growing in a planter, and had been branching out and even started producing what I thought were clusters of flower buds. But, as usually happens, just as plants seem poised to do well, the pests struck.

Something began making holes in the leaves and leaving tiny black bits of residue along the stems and at the leaf joints. Several days later, I found an almost translucent green worm-like caterpillar on the underside of one of the leaves. It was one of those that moves like an inchworm. It was also almost the same shade of green as the leaf, making it almost impossible to see. I removed it and searched the rest of the plants, finding another larvae only because I looked from below and spotted it silhouetted against the afternoon light. Their colour camouflages them well!

Cluster of caterpillar larvae spotted at night

The leaves continued to be attacked and I figured I’d better check the plants at night. So, armed with a torchlight, I went to check the plants at around 9pm and spotted web-like strands clustered at a leaf joint just over a cluster of what I’d figured as flower buds. The strands didn’t look like part of a spider web, so I took a closer look.

That’s when I saw the cluster of little green caterpillars focused on what had been a bunch of flower buds. The funny thing is, after I got the camera and took a few photos, they all dispersed like magic, and I couldn’t find any after that. I guess they’re sensitive to light, or were just smart enough to know I was going to squish them after photographing them…

The next day, I went to check the plants again. The original plant was now sitting there innocently, devoid of caterpillars. The other plants, however, showed those black droppings again. Once again, I spotted the strands of web, and sure enough, there were more green caterpillars!

And more…

Tiny, greedy buggers, aren't they? >:(

So I once again got to wondering what kind of caterpillar this is, and after some online snooping, the closest I could find was the larvae of the Diamondback moth, or Plutella xylostella. I can’t say that I’ve actually seen this moth around, but I’ll certainly be on the lookout for it. If you want to read more about this moth, follow this link. I suspect they’ll be difficult to guard against, but am trying an idea to deter them – I dipped a disposable wooden chopstick into liquid insecticide and poked it, wet side up, into the soil in the planter. Maybe the scent of it will chase off the moths that come to lay eggs…

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Caixin pests — 4 Comments

  1. I sure hope you deter your caterpillars! I’ve seen butterflies fluttering around my plants even at the ninth level, but I think my plants don’t agree with them – haven’t seen their offspring so far. *crosses fingers*

    • Lucky you! After seeing these wormy caterpillars, I’m probably only going to keep growing the plants to see if I can get flowers & seeds. No way do I want to eat them now! e.e