incredibly HUGE grub, worm, caterpillar(?) Survivors-How do I treat??

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by bcsister, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. bcsister

    bcsister Active Member

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    Location:
    surrey, bc, canada
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    I found it living INSIDE my cactus.
    this guy was roughly 2.7 to 3 inches long!!

    can anyone id it?
    how did it get inside?

    I saw NO damage from the outside... I only found out because I was doing a random "squish test", and it failed.

    that cactus is now gone, but it was in a window box with 4 other cacti.
    Do I need to cut them all open too?

    Simply change dirt and re-pot?
    PLEASE, all help will be welcome!!
     

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  2. JenRi

    JenRi Active Member

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    Ewwww that's really quite alarming! I'm not that squeamish really but I think I would have a serious freak out if I found that in any of my cacti!

    I have no idea what it is but I would guess its something that starts its life off in the soil, grows up and then enters the cactus from the bottom, so I would definitely change the dirt, give the roots a good wash and see if you can see any damage at the bottom of the other 4 cacti. I REALLY hope you haven't got the same thing in any of your other Cacti:(
     
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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  4. JenRi

    JenRi Active Member

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    Thanks for the info Liz, very interesting

    It doesn't look like cactoblastis (unless its mutated quite horribly) as the grub/caterpillar bcsister found was 2-3 in. long, the cactoblastis larvae/caterpillar only gets to 25mm (about 1 in.) and is a rather clashy orange and black - I'm gonna do some research as I'm quite intrigued now as to what it is!
     
  5. JenRi

    JenRi Active Member

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    Right, after doing some research I've found something that it could be Heterocampa guttivitta, common name saddle prominent erm....caterpillar? Its definitely found in Canada but I don't know what on earth its doing inside your cactus as they are usually found making a nuisance of themselves, munching away at Maples!

    Here's where I found the bug:

    http://www.giffbeaton.com/caterpillars.htm

    (unfortunately you have to scroll down to the Prominents: Notodontidae section to see it)

    This is what came up as soon as I typed 'Heterocampa guttivitta' into google:

    http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/subsite/glfc-sugarbush/heterocampa-guttivatta

    And their image looks very much like your beastie

    http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/subsite/glfc-sugarbush/heterocampa-guttivatta-images/1

    I could be wrong but it does make vague sense - maybe some eggs got into your soil somehow and exposed to the warmth of indoors they hatched and in the absence of conventional leaves it decided to make a meal of your cactus instead! We really need an Entomologist to confirm....maybe you could try posting a link to this thread in the 'Garden pest management and indentification' forum here:

    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=129

    Someone there may know....
     
  6. bcsister

    bcsister Active Member

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    Oh, WOW!
    I thought I was the only one who cared! And yes, i did totally FREAK... but I was entirely curious as to WHAT i was looking at, and trying to figure out HOW it got inside!!
    I found another possibility:
    White-blotched Heterocampa further down the page.
    here's the thing... the roots were undamaged. As i said, i couldn't find ANYTHING wrong with the notocactus externally. I was wondering if the durn thing could've been injected into the plant somehow?? Crazy, i know. Just SO puzzling.
    I'm attaching a pic of the other... tell me what you think, i'd like to know!!

    The first pic is one I got from the link you provided (thank you), the other two are of my guy....

    it seems harsh, but I think I might have to cut the others open, too.
    THAT would upset me, they are the first ones I ever took care of, and are going on thier 3rd year!
     

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  7. JenRi

    JenRi Active Member

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    Yeah well I just find it quite bizarre that you have a (presumably) native caterpillar munching on a non-native plant! (and plus I read Liz's post during a particularly boring part of the Singapore Grand Prix..)

    Having another look at the markings, does make me think it looks more like Heterocampa umbrata or White-blotched heterocampa the only problem is I can't find any site that says they are found in Canada. This one looks quite official:

    http://www.cbif.gc.ca/pls/itisca/taxaget?p_ifx=cbif

    and has heterocampa guttivita (saddle prominent) but not heterocampa umbrata (white blotched). Then again they might just have not added it yet, I think its a work in progress.

    I think it hatched really tiny, burrowed into the soil then chewed a tiny little hole so it could enter the cactus (which may well have healed in the meantime) and then just sat there and ate, it probably got so big as it didn't have to move to find an alternative food source i.e the next leaf. Just my theory anyway....

    hmmmmm I think i'd rather change all the soil and just keep an eye on them, than cut them open because there's a chance the others are okay, it'd be soul destroying to cut them open for nothing, if they also have unwanted hosts you'll soon know in any case....

    Its up to you though!


    Just another thought if you had a very powerful torch you might be able to shine it on the cactus and see a shadow...maybe?
     
  8. Marn

    Marn Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Wow that is really an ugly creature and big one .. i have no idea what it is either but maybe go to www.bugguide.net and post it there those people are awesome with ID's hopefully you find out what it is and how it got there ..

    Marion
     
  9. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    Well,
    Wow. The pattern on its back is interesting.
    From the side view it seemed to have horns?
    Having lived in Delta, very near Surrey BC I just can't think why it wouldn't just be a type of moth.
    How long have you had the cactus?
    When I worked in a tomato house years ago in Delta we once had an infestation of the tomato horn worm I think it was. Perhaps one of those? An escapee form a hot hose somewhere ?
    Is Surrey as under cover as is Delta now with greenhouse glass?

    Thanks for posting this interesting creature.

    Oh yes. Here once, I had some huge caterpillars who looked different from yours, that seemed to be a swallow tail but living on the oenothera outdoors. And only that one year.
    Here in BC we don't normally have anything that is harmful except the tomato worm that I know of.
    Whatever it is, likely it is lonely. Pretty freaky company in any numbers I'd find!

    Thks again,
    D
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2009
  10. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    You didn't say what sort of cactus it is did you?

    I have a barrel cactus that went hollow without the help of any grubs or huge invaders tho it would have been big enough.
    I had rotted it thru overwatering.
    I took it out of the pot & removed all the rotten parts and let it dry out in the open air for a day or few (however long it took to dry and seal over).
    when I worked for a Dutch grower of bedding plants he had us do geranium cuttings the same way, laying them in rows in a try, cut ends exposed to dry for a few hours in order to seal so they would not rot.
    The same principle works especially well for cactus I have found and especially with this big barrel who recovered very nicely and has bloomed regularly for several years since.
    Remember that most plants want to live and are tough survivors.Given what they need they will thrive.
    Try it, experiment and learn from the experience.
    Let us know the result. How about a pic?

    D :)
     
  11. kinghedes

    kinghedes Active Member

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    Location:
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    i had this horse crippler that the middle rotted out from to much water and by the time i relized it it was just a shell and smelled like a ole rotton pumkin the plant was about 9in round
     

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