Are you seeing caterpillars on your passion vine? Will caterpillars kill my passion vine?
Why is your passion flower vine dying? Could there be another reason besides caterpillars? Are there some passion vines that are not safe for caterpillars?
In this article, we will find out if caterpillars can kill passion vines.
Will Caterpillars Kill My Passion Vine?
Caterpillars can cause lots of damage to many garden plants including passion vines. Orange Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars are best known to feast on passion Vines.
They are not dangerous to handle, so you should try to pick them off and put them on different wild plants away from your garden if you can. These caterpillars turn into beautiful Gulf fritillary butterflies.
Some people keep passion vines specifically for encouraging these orange caterpillars to enjoy feasting on them during their larval stage.
Your passion vine should survive but probably will not bloom when you have too many caterpillars on it. Remove these caterpillars if you wish for your passion Vines to bloom.
Why is my Passion Flower Vine Dying?
Passion flowers are sensitive bloomers on passion vines. They die mostly due to fungus damage, but also from an influx of orange fritillary caterpillars.
The fungus that can grow on passion flowers causes fusarium wilt. This becomes a disease born out of the soil which is deadly for your passion flower vines.
You may notice the following reactions from your plant:
- yellowing leaves
- wilted leaves
- dropping leaves
- split branches
- trunk coming away from the bark
A caterpillar is going to stay away from your passion flower vine that is succumbing to fusarium wilt.
This is a much bigger problem than any infestation of worms or caterpillars who don’t necessarily destroy your passion flower vines, but make stops them from blooming for this season.
Will Passion Vine Come Back?
Passion flower vines die each winter and grow back every spring. Their root system is not dead. You may experience some seasons where your passion vine does not flower.
The reason being could be an influx of too many orange caterpillars. It has been noted that on many occasions when too many caterpillars are feasting on a passion vine in one particular season, the flowers do not bloom.
Re-sprouting begins again in the spring. Cut back passion vines to only one or two strong stems. This will help the plants grow new stems that are stronger.
Which Caterpillars Like To Eat Passion Vines?
Are you seeing caterpillars with spiny red and black features or are predominantly orange in color? These caterpillars are called Gulf Fritillary caterpillars (Agraulis vanillae).
They are almost exclusive eaters of passion vines. Monarch caterpillars choose milkweed or swan plants, but the Gulf fritillary caterpillars desire passion vines just the same.
They will feast and hatch on these plants throughout the summer. Your best bet is to pick them off and place them on other wild plants to keep them away from your passion vines.
What Happens to Passion Vines When Caterpillars Eat Them?
Caterpillars can eat up the vines until there is nothing left. You will not witness any blooming flowers during this growing season. The plant should not die too because the root system is still strong enough to grow back for the following season.
The tender leaves of the passion vine will be eaten first. Following that, broad shade leaves are eaten at the end. Birds are also on the lookout for these orange gulf fritillary caterpillars who are obsessed with eating passion vines.
They will find this plant comfortable enough to form a chrysalis if they are not eaten by predators. Gulf Fritillary butterflies emerge with beautiful colors and are arguably one of the most beautiful insects in the world.
Which Passion Vines Are Safe for Caterpillars?
Did you know that some passion vines are actually toxic to butterflies and caterpillars? We would like to list them for you to make sure you know which ones are safe and which ones are actually lethal.
Orange gulf fritillary caterpillars are the most common species of caterpillar who dine on this plant and form chrysalis. In some cases, one passion vine is safe for one type of caterpillar, but not for another.
Zebra Longwing caterpillars can’t eat Lady Margaret passion vines because they would die, but Gulf Fritillary caterpillars thrive on them.
The following passion vines or passion flowers are safe for most species of caterpillar:
- incarnata – Maypop
- Lady Margaret
- biflora – Boomerang
- suberosa Corky stem
Many bright red blooming passion flowers are not safe for caterpillars. Here are two examples of deadly passion vines that caterpillars would not be able to survive if they munched on them:
Before you know it, every leaf of your passion vine can be eaten by caterpillars. Once the food runs out, the caterpillars will disappear.
This will allow some opportunity for the passion vine to be able to sprout new leaves. Most likely, you will not be able to receive any flowering or blooming this season.
The leaves can grow back and flowers will bloom again the following season because the root system is still alive. This is how we understand that caterpillars do not kill passion vines. They will come back.
Butterflies will land here and lay new eggs. These caterpillars will begin munching on your passion vines all over again. You will probably not get any passion fruit for the season in which caterpillars have begun munching on your passion vines.
You have to make a decision whether or not you are keeping passion vines for the purpose of caring for these Gulf fritillary orange caterpillars or if you are intending to harvest passion fruits.
If you choose the latter, you will have to pick off these caterpillars and place them on a different wild growing plant away from your garden. Handle with care and use gloves if possible.
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