Moth larval host plants - desert survivors (Jan 2015)

The following is a list of plants we carry that are used by moth caterpillars. Only the most basic descriptions of the moths are provided in this list, as some of these caterpillars are still being identified to species level and many do not have a common name. Simple names are used for most of the caterpillars here, often identifying them to just the family that they belong to within the moth order (like Owlet moth, for Noctuidae/Erebidae; Geometrid moth, for Geometridae; or Silk moth, for Saturniidae; etc). There are probably about 3 to 5 times as many moths in Arizona as there are butterflies. Although the moths do not get the attention that the butterflies do, their caterpillars are often more attractive, and they are interesting in being mostly night fliers. Moths are also important pollinators for certain plants, primarily those that bloom specifically at night or remain open into the night and are often fragrant.  

Is it okay to have moth caterpillars eating my recently purchased plants? Like butterflies, some moth caterpillars can be very destructive to their hosts, but typically the plants weather the browsing quite well. When the leaves are consumed by these hungry herbivores, the foliage is immediately converted into a fertilizer by the caterpillars. Another result is the production of growth hormones by the plant during the following season. Just keep an eye on your new larval host plants during the first season that they are planted, as this is when they are more vunerable. After the second year in the ground, these plants should coexist well with most of these caterpillars. 

 

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