Monday, August 17, 2009

Plant Pest: Sunflower Moth

If the flowers on your Coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans or Sunflowers seem to be fading faster than they should, check to see if they have been infested by the Sunflower Moth. Now is the time of year that they, and other caterpillars, are at their peak.

Caterpillars, the larval stage of moths and butterflies, are particular about the plants they feed upon. The Sunflower Moth (Homoeosoma electellum) only feeds on the flower heads of plants in the Compositaceae Family like Zinnias and Coneflowers.

Something is going on if you look at the center of the flower and it looks dusty like this:

Cut one of these flowers open and you're likely to find a caterpillar hiding inside!
To manage this pest in your garden or nursery, simply prune off the damaged flowers and throw them away.

Or, you can simply revel in the fact that your garden is hospitable to moths and butterflies and congratulate yourself on the oasis you have created.

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