By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs, first published in her gardeners notebook.
Phalaenoides glycinae, Grapevine moth has been spotted on a few different plants throughout the summer months.
The caterpillars have very distinct colourings and patterns, which makes them very easy to identify.
These little guys grow to a length of 50mm with a black and white abstract pattern on the upper and underside of their body. Their body is covered in small white coloured hairs with fuchsia coloured stripes near their feet and their back end. Their face is gold-yellow with black dots.
Unfortunately these guys are NOT a beneficial bug. The caterpillar will feed on a variety of plants such as Australian natives, Fuchsias, Boston ivy and both ornamental and fruiting grapevines. Usually the caterpillars and larvae will feed on the undersides of the foliage, so if you happen to spot some on your plants make sure to check the underside of the foliage. If a lot of larvae are present on a plant they are capable of defoliating a vine or attacking any developing bunches of grapes on your vines.
I have managed to find up to 10 caterpillars on the one plant. Pupation will occur in any leaf litter that may surround your targeted plants or within the soil.
After the caterpillar has entered its pupation stage, a small black moth will emerge. The wingspan of the moth is 50mm with yellow markings on both wings and at the end of the body is a collection of orange hairs. Fortunately, the moth doesn’t cause as much of a problem as the larvae and caterpillars.
You can remove the caterpillars and larvae by hand and dispose of them. Otherwise, natural predators will feed on these guys, such as birds, beetles and wasps. One beetle that loves to feed on the Grapevine moth/caterpillar is the Shield bug, which in Latin in known as Oechalia schellembergii. The shield bug likes to feed on the body fluids of the caterpillars and larvae thus eliminating them.
You can also use Yates Dipel to kill caterpillars. Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria. Dipel does not kill caterpillars immediately. Once a caterpillar eats treated foliage, it gets a pain in the tummy and stops eating, but may take up to 3-4 days to die and drop from the leaf. This is a low toxic, organic soluton. It is safe for bees, ladybirds, birds, fish, mammals & pets.