|Fiddlewood Leaf Roller Caterpillar, Jennifer Possley|
Fiddlewood (Citharexylum fruticosum) is an attractive shrub native to South Florida that is often used as a tall hedge. It has glossy leaves with small white showy flowers that bloom in the summer.
Recently such a hedge in Key Largo was severely defoliated. The culprit was the fiddlewood leafroller (Epicorsia odeipodalis), in its first documented appearance in Monroe County. These yellow caterpillars with orange heads and black and white spots skeletonize and roll leaves of fiddlewoods and other plants, including star apples and lancewood. After pupating, they emerge as small ( 4 cm) yellow/tan moths.
Although these pests usually do no permanent damage, they do cause temporary unsightliness. So what can you do to control these pests? Remove the eggs and pupae by pruning and disposal, and treat the larvae with the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.