- Citrus

Citrus Citrus

Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar

Insect

Papilio cresphontes


In a Nutshell

  • Leaf defoliation.
  • Caterpillar feeding symptoms on large sections of the leaves.

Symptoms

Feeding damage takes the form of patches or holes on the leaves. The caterpillars prefer young leaves as their food source. The Caterpillar has the appearance of bird poop with creamy white markings and it produces a foul odour. The adults feed on the nectar of flowers.

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Hosts

Trigger

Damage is caused by the feeding of the Giant Swallowtail caterpillar. Female adults lay their eggs individually on the upper surface of the leaves of host plants. Eggs are usually small, spherical and cream to brown in colour. The caterpillars can resemble bird droppings and are dark brown with creamy white markings around the mid-body. The adult butterfly is very large, which has dark brown wings with yellow markings, including a large horizontal yellow strip across the wings. They are usually between 4 to 6 inches in size.

Organic Control

Introduce parasitic insects such as Lespecia rileyi (Williston), Brachymeria robusta, Pteromalus Cassotis Walker and Pteromalus vanessae Howard. Protect nursery stock and young grove trees with Bacillus thuringiensis. Spray leaves with soapy water. Mature citrus trees can easily withstand the loss of a few leaves.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments, if available. Mature commercial citrus trees can withstand larvae infestation, hence there is little or no need for chemical control methods.

Preventive Measures

  • Destroy the eggs and caterpillars if seen on small trees.
  • Handpick larvae from leaves to preserve blossoms and fruit yield.
  • Monitor lighter-coloured leaves that have recently leafed out because female giant swallowtails prefer to lay their eggs on them.
  • Mature citrus trees can easily withstand the loss of a few leaves, therefore, early planting is recommended.

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