or specifically green caterpillars. I try very hard to mostly let the insects and the plants grow together, on the theory that a balance is usually struck if, and only if, one can leave it alone. There are exceptions of course (usually in the vegetable garden) in the flower garden there is a particular standout.* Every year like clockwork at some point between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day the green caterpillars hit the Exbury Hybrid and the Swamp Azaleas.  They’ll eat any deciduous azalea, but those two types are their favorites.

Overnight they appear, and the next night they can and will defoliate a full sized shrub. Prompt action with Pyrethrin is the best approach, Neem is too slow.  I distinctly recall one year, doing a last check of the garden before a long weekend in Montreal….which led to stopping the car in the driveway and me spraying the azaleas in heels. This year, a cancelled date night led to the happy discovery of them. The biggest yellow Exbury practically writhed with the blasted things when I sprayed it. My timing was good though, dusk and the birds are pretty much in for the night. The leaves will be dry and the caterpillars long gone by morning. (I hope!)

*Leaving aside the Lily Beetles, let’s just not discuss that scourge.