They have up to four generations in a single year. You can find their eggs individually or up to ten in a single cluster. Each female celery leaftier can produce up to 130 eggs in one generation. It takes about nine days before the eggs will hatch. It takes up to a month, on the other hand, for the larva to emerge. It will then pupate in suitable leaves and after about two weeks, it will fully transform into an adult. The adult caterpillar will have a life of up to 35 days. All in all, the pest will have an average lifespan of six weeks.
Celery Leaftier’s Habitat
When they are still eggs, you will find them on the underside of the leaves of their host plants. Some eggs may also overlap with each other. During the larval phase, on the other hand, they will move to the lower side of the leaves. This is when they will start to web or tie the leaves together. Meanwhile, in their pupation stage, they will live in folded leaves. This is where they will form a white and silky cocoon. Finally, when they are adults, they will be more visible. However, since they are nocturnal creatures, you can hardly see them in the daytime.
Identifying Celery Leaftier’s Damage
Despite the name, the host plants go beyond celery. Other plants that can be affected by this garden pest also include lettuce, sugarbeet, cabbage, parsley, cauliflower, kale, and beans. It is also a common pest for greenhouse plants, which include geranium, rose, dahlia, snapdragon, daisy, sweet pea, and violet.
The following are some of the most common signs that will be indicative of the presence of celery leaftiers:
- The most common symptom is the appearance of silk, which will tie the leaves together. Defoliation can also be apparent.
- In extreme cases, the host plant will experience loss of vigor. This turns the plant dry, and can eventually lead to its death. This is as a result of the inability to absorb the nutrients that are essential for its survival.
Results of Infestation
The extent of infestation will depend on a variety of factors, such as the population of the pest and the health of the plants. If it is in a good state of health, it will be more resistant to damages. The most common damage from celery leaftiers will be evident on the leaves. They may look unattractive because of the appearance of the silky webs. The pest will also tie them together. In extreme instances, especially in the case of commercial growers, this will equate to an economic loss since their crops will no longer be marketable.
How to Get Rid of Celery Leaftiers
Natural and Organic Solutions
For the safest and most effective ways to prevent and control celery leaftiers, the following are some of the solutions that will work the best:
- Manual removal of the larvae may seem like an exhausting task, but it can be effective. Hand-pick the larvae when you see them. Do this as soon as possible before they can bring significant damages to their host plants. Do not just throw the larvae anywhere in the garden. They will find their way back to your plants. Instead, throw them in a bucket of soapy water. This will kill the celery leaftier.
- As nocturnal pests, it will also be good to use light traps. The light will attract the celery leaftier and will keep them away from your plants. One of the key ingredients for its success is to position the traps in the area where the pest is abundant. When there are lots of insects in the trap, make sure to clean it and throw the insects properly.
- Using covers will also be a good way to keep the pesky pest away. The cover will act as a protective barrier. Net is a good material for a cover since it will still allow light to pass through, which is crucial for photosynthetic activity. At some point, you will also need to remove the cover for pollination.
- Garden sanitation is also a good solution. Keep it free from decaying vegetation and leaf litter. Take out anything that can provide an overwintering spot for caterpillar leaftiers.
- Looking for a safer alternative to chemical pesticides? Bacillus thuringiensis will prove to be an effective choice. It is made using natural ingredients, and hence, there is no need to worry about toxicity. To be effective, its application needs to be done before the larvae can hatch.
Most of the hosts of celery leaftiers are edible plants. For this reason, it is best to stay away from the use of chemical controls. Many pesticides have harsh chemicals that can be toxic upon ingestion, especially amongst humans. With this, as much as possible, keep your eyes on the use of natural solutions instead.