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Mullein moth caterpillars


by Pippa Greenwood

The mullein moth caterpillars in my garden are still small, but they're guaranteed to increase in size by the day.


Mullein moth on leafThe mullein moth caterpillars in my garden are still small, but they're guaranteed to increase in size by the day. These little critters - welcomed by wildlife enthusiasts and hated by gardeners - munch their way through verbascum, figwort and buddleja.

The caterpillars can destroy plants' foliage in a matter of days and can literally be seen to swell in the process. Luckily, my one cultivated verbascum has so far escaped their attentions, but a buddleja and several of the wild mulleins growing in my garden are already under attack.

Mullein moth caterpillars can grow to up to 5cm in length. They're greyish in colour with distinct black and yellow markings. You'll often find them on plants in large numbers, but even a few can do a lot of damage. They tend to feed on exposed areas of the foliage, so it's not too difficult to spot and remove them before they've decimated the plants.

Of course, you may not want to remove them from your prized plants. Some gardeners choose to leave them be, in the hope of seeing a mullein moth (a rare sight in April and May); others prefer to see plants than moths, and pluck the caterpillars off by hand.



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Talkback: Mullein moth caterpillars
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AJ mothy 22/05/2012 at 19:56

we live in central scotland and we have found a mullein moth in our garden and it has hatched under a wall light. We thought it was an elephant moth because of the trunk like body but when i looked it up on google images it did'nt look like it, so i looked up rare moths and found it there!

Alasdair
age 12

Cangrandmafixiit 23/05/2012 at 17:48

ARE THESE THEONES THAT MUTILATE MY  VERBASCUMS, AND HOW  DO YOU PREVENT IT OR IF ITS TOO LATE  IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN SPRAY WITH.