Mullein moth caterpillars, black vine weevils and a blossoming Winchester Cathedral rose

P1010994About a month ago I ranted against the Otiorhynchus Sulcatus – the Jack Sprat and wife  of the insect world – I ranted and sought ways to eradicate the weevils from my balcony.  The adults eat the leaves, mainly rhododendrons and roses, but they aren’t picky and the  larva eat the roots – a most effective double dose of death for all plants.  Last year the little ******** ate all my herbs, killed my roses and generally wreaked havoc on my plants and threatened my gardening dreams of flourishing plants.  Those of you who love plants know how I felt. Luckily it’s easy to identify black vine weevil damage above ground – and if you can see that you need to take action. Typical black wine weevil damage: the half moon shaped hole in the leaf at the top right hand corner of the photo (cherry tree) is the artistic signature of the black vine weevil. The insect itself is below –  I captured the little lassie on my balcony weeks ago and confined her in a caviar jar. I added in a rose leaf to keep her happy and some drops of water and in parallel went about treating all my pots with nematodes thereby killing any larval stages of the vine weevil. Yes I know it doesn’t really make much sense. So I confined and then forgot about the weevil.

P1010884Weeks later I am happy to report that my plants are doing well, the treatment seems to have worked and the roses are spectacular below Winchester Cathedral Rose – David Austin, growing very happily in it’s second season in a big pot on my balcony after having survived a – 20°C winter in said pot, with no protective padding. A true survivor,  I like that in my plants.

IMG_0187And to my surprise, weeks later, despite the fact that I screwed the lid on the caviar jar and forgot the vine weevil in it for about a month,   when I checked it a couple of days ago it was still alive, if somewhat reproachful, in it’s glass prison. Today I went on a long walk and relocated the weevil in a forest…. I released it from its prison and watched it for a while while it navigated a leaf and clambered onto the underside, it is hard not to anthropomorphize an insects when you release it into the wild and it suddenly becomes all activated, trembling feelers and actively pumping little legs, it is hard not to imagine that in it’s proper habitat it looks happy.

On another note – my Mullein moth caterpillars are also doing well, after Landkrauter failed to produce any verbascum leaves, having eradicated the plant from the garden and having given me the last plant available, proclaiming it to be a digitalis…..and with it the moths.

I have had to check out my neighbourhood for verbascum plants. Luckily there are 3 growing wild outside my house so I now go on evening walks to pick the leaves, it’s a bit like having a small zoo at home and I enjoy observing them grow and feed. The trick with the falling off face hasn’t been repeated though unfortunately, so I was lucky to see that happening once. Below a caterpillar happily munching on a stolen verbascum leaf.

Mullein moth June 16th

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2 thoughts on “Mullein moth caterpillars, black vine weevils and a blossoming Winchester Cathedral rose

  1. 🙂 – well the the caterpillars are quite colorful – I have another rose with apricot blossoms that should be flowering soon – due to weather everything is a bit delayed here

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