I went out again with my flashlight tonight at midnight and guess what – I caught a 5/8″ budworm *in flagrante*. Positive id, caught in the act, sucking on a bud. I put him in a jar, capped it and continued searching, but found none other.
Then I decided to check my petunias, which every year, starting around July, get ragged chew marks around the edges; some get chewed down almost to the stem, others just a few nibbles, still others have ragged holes in the side of the flower bell.
I had always suspected birds, but based on our discussion, I did a midnight inspection of the petunias as well. And guess what? I found a 3/8″ budworm deep inside one petunia bell.
I plucked him out and put him in the holding cell with his much larger cousin (they didnt have much to say to one another, but clearly were unhappy with their new condition).
I considered leaving the closed jar in the garden as a warning to any others – sort of Taliban-style …
an internet search for “what’s eating my petunias” mostly suggested earwigs or slugs, eg:
got it right (and suggests BT)
Answer from Pat:
Voila!—”Pris en flagrant delit”— indeed! A few minutes longer and the dastardly deed would be done.
Good for you!. And then the petunias—They are candy for caterpillars. Many people here have thrown up their hands in dismay and given them up.
Re: your captive caterpillars: You could take pity on them and feed them a lettuce leaf thus saving them from their little Jean Paul Sartre hell inside a jar—talking for eternity to no one but each other.
Prospero save Ariel in the end. I have a copy of “The Tempest” in which there is the most lovely drawing by Arthur Rackham and the words beneath are “under the blossom on the bough I shall live merrily merrily now.”
But many years ago I did something similar to your idea: A feral Tom cat was keeping my late husband Lou and me awake at night. I set a trap for it on the roof and caught it. I left it in jail all day in the carport then gave it a lecture on keeping people awake and let it go. It lit off like Paul Revere’s wild ride and we never heard it again. But I fear caterpillars are “bears of little brain.”
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