Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stealth Chompers!

Not me! I'm a Purple Basil flower and of course you know me...but, have you seen my friend?
Southern Crimson Moth (Pyrausta inornatalis) on basil flower

This very small and prettily colored day flying moth has appeared on the purple basil plants. So well did they blend into the flowering basil that they were only noticeable when I brushed against the container and they flew hither and yon...Yon being over to the next basil plant. Their shape reminds me of tiny pink stealth planes.

It seems that the Southern Crimson Moth's larval food is salvia! My best guess... It's hanging around its distant mint cousin, until the caterpillars hatch on the salvia...then chomp city! Stealth chompers.

The presence of caterpillars might explain why my Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' hasn't had a flower bud yet! It looks stunted and unhappy. What a disappointment when it has always been a floriferous bloomer during these last months of summer.

There isn't much known about this little guy that I can locate. He can be found in two parts of the country. Maybe he's been transported across the state lines to other gardens! ...The map clearly shows the two locations where they are found~~ Texas and Tennessee. The area in Tennessee looks very close to Davidson County where the pretty moth is living on my basil plants! The stinkers.

But, there is one thing I know for certain! If it's planning on chomping on my Salvia azurea's buds, it's got another think coming! I've been watching the buds develop on these beauties for the last few weeks. Soon they will be blooming~~ Last year was their first summer in the garden and I wasn't disappointed...neither were the bees. As seen in this photo from the Summer of Love 2008~
Isn't it a scrumptious blue and the bees awfully adorable, too! You may not remember but, this photo was taken from a post I had lots of fun writing...My Sweet Embraceable You. Go here to see the post. I don't want anything to get in the way of those terrific blooms...Late summer visitors need the nectar and I need the colorful flowers. They make me smile when ever the bees stop by.

It certainly looks like I'm going hunting for very tiny caterpillars tomorrow! There will be no chomping of salvia buds in my garden.

Stealth chompers...you cannot fly under my gardener radar!

Gail

46 comments:

  1. I have never seen that pretty little pink moth. I must be too far north. It would be a shame for them to destroy your salvia. I love that sky blue color.

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  2. Don't know that little stealth chompers! I have enough critters in my garden and don't need to have my salvias and basil plants chomped! I rely upon both plants so much in the deer resistant garden.

    Cameron

    PS Love that blue salvia. Bog sage is a similar color, but bi-colored with white that blooms all summer until frost.

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  3. What a pretty color your SC is! I've never seen one before, I think he would be wise to listen to you about you salvia.--Randy

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  4. Gail girl that blue is heavenly !!
    I'm sorry you have the "Attack of the Stealth Chompers" .. sounds like good material for a movie right ?? LOL
    This morning has been so cool and beautiful it really made me perky .. I went out and cut some flowers and gathered a sleeping bee in with them for which I had NO idea he was there .. when I laid the flowers on the table .. there he was ! still snoring ? LOL
    He was sweet not to sting me with my DUH ? moment in full gear : )

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  5. That moth looks like flower petals! It could blend in very well among the basil flowers. Keep it away from those salvias though! The larvae have probably already fed and matured.

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  6. I was thinking I had never seen these pink moths, then I saw your map. NO WONDER! Mother Nature never fails to amaze me.
    That blue salvia is so pretty. Someone once told me you just couldn't find blue flowers...HAH!

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  7. Wow, Gail! That pink moth is so gorgeous, I'd be willing to grow plants just to attract it! To think, I grew up in Nashville and never saw one, and that's not a sight I'd be likely to overlook. I wonder if it's a relatively recent immigrant? Lucky you to have them!

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  8. I agree with Ben. I'd grow dozens of plants to have a pretty moth like that. It must be very rare to only exist in two tiny spots in the entire country.

    Wanted to ask you about the Rudbeckia Triloba (on my site). Is it perennial or biennial in your garden and does it start easily from seed? I'll check back later.
    Marnie

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  9. Very nice Gail. Love that blue. Don't like the chompers. Something is eating my cannas---guess it to be grasshoppers.

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  10. That's very good camouflage, for sure! Fiona has a stealth purr (you can feel the vibration but it's silent). Penstemon X still blooming! :)

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  11. Good get 'em Gail!! What a beautiful looking moth!!

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  12. It is a pretty moth. Nothing like that here. I hope it does not eat your salvia either. That is a really pretty one!

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  13. Gail, get out the bottle of neem oil aka anti-aircraft defense system. That blue is too gorgeous to feed a moth!

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  14. What a pretty salvia Gail. I love that purple basil. There's nothing like that scent in the garden (and the kitchen!)

    Happy hunting!

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  15. This little moth is quite pretty, but it does look like a stealth bomber:) Hope you can eradicate them before they destroy any more of those blooms. I had forgotten about this gorgeous blue salvia--I'm definitely going to look for this variety next year!

    Daughter finally got her internet connection hooked up, so I have a few moments for catching up on posts before leaving for home today. Thanks for all the great info about the Susans; mine have done very well this year, but I'd love to have them expand even more next year--I love your mass plantings!

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  16. Oh boy. It seems there's a chomper for everything, doesn't it? That one is pretty, though. Hope you find what's eating your salvia. I grew a couple different ones this summer, one a perennial. The annual one (Texas sage) has been blooming like CRAZY! It's a coral color, too and just gorgeous. I'll buy it again next year.

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  17. Wow! That looks exotic. For a moment, I thought it was sweet, but eating buds? Now that's not so sweet of them. They definitely ought to be kept in check! Good luck, Gail.

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  18. I've never heard of that little moth either Gail but I wouldn't be happy to find something interfering with my salvia blooms either. Those are very precious aren't they? I remember that scrumptious blue 'Azurea' from last year. Protect it with your life! btw, I looked it one up to see if it was hardy here and it's not. boo hoo. It's really a gorgeous blue, maybe it could be grown as an annual?

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  19. Oh No! Not the Salvia Az!!! I didn't know there was such a thing as a day flying moth, or one that ate Salvias either. No red flowers of the pretty S. coccinea? What a travesty! I hope you can get those little catts before it's too late!
    Frances
    ps, you are so sneaky

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  20. I am so glad you posted about this little moth -- I have had a regular one on my salvia for two months now, and it was so cute that I didn't think anything about possible damage. But that little guy must be the reason my salvias in that spot weren't doing so well. They eventually bloomed, though, so I guess I won't worry too much about it. I'm just glad to know what it is! The map is slightly off, as we're in Austin, so I guess the moth's habitat is growing or shifting.

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  21. Gail goes into guerilla mode! Know your enemy is a good mantra, and you've definitely studied up on the buggers. I hope you get those little chompers & squish them good. How odd that they live only in 2 places in the country & 1 is yours.

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  23. Gail, maybe part of the reason your salvia's sulking is the weather? With our wet, wet spring and cool summer, my salvia hasn't done squat (that's the best way to put it). And I had such high hopes this year. But you make sure you do look for those caterpillars - I'd hate to think that georgous blue didn't get to put on a show this year.

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  24. It stinks to find out that you have a new pest in your garden. I find myself wondering if I can make them go away just by refusing to believe in them? Hasn't worked yet. Good luck catching the stealth chompers.

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  25. Good luck with your hunt. :)Nice pictures of the moth!

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  26. I'm glad I've never seen those little bright lilac pink moths, and I naively thought that nothing ate salvia. I'd protect my Azure Sage too! It's a wonderful shade of blue just like the sky on a clear spring day.

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  27. Dear Everyone~~Thanks for stopping by and seeing the Stealth Chomper...Isn't he/she pretty! Today I went searching for the moth and they were all gone...When I peaked out the door later, and they were back..Oh those tricky critters!

    Gardens are forever entertaining us...I'm not sure i will pull the little cats off the Coral Nymph...but I will watch the salvia!

    Take care~

    gail

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  28. A note to readers~~ The Southern Pink Moth Pyrausta inornatalis was just added to the data base as being observed and photographed in Davidson County TN this past May! I've emailed them with questions about life span, host plants, etc. gail

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  29. Hi Gail,
    Sometimes it is necessary to draw the line with a chomper. That moth is a lovely pink... so unique. And your blue salvia is worth saving for the bees.

    I found the cat from a Tresa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth on my pentas this morning. It is 3 inches long! It had executed quite a chomping job already so I'm going to check on it tomorrow to see if any of the plant is left.
    :-)
    Meems

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  30. It truly sucks when you have bugs munch on your plants. It is like you do so much to take care of your plants and then they eat pieces of your plants.

    Jake

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  31. I guess that's how it is with gardens – some visitors one loves, others not. Pretty basil bloom – never seen that before! Thanks for the introduction!

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  32. Do guard your Salvia azurea with radar - it's worth it!

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  33. Good for you for keeping such a close eye one your plants...mine are usually 1/2 gone before I notice! They are lovely little moths though, Kim

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  34. I hope that pretty little moth's offspring leave your S. azurea alone! That's one of the Salvias I've had trouble growing. I need to try again because it is indeed a breathtaking shade of blue.

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  35. That moth sure does blend in well. A pretty color. I hope it moves on soon so your salvia azura blooms!

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  36. Well Gail as pretty as that pink moth is..I too can appreciate your love of the pretty blue blossoms..because the more blue in the garden the more I smile...
    your Coal and my Paisley could be twins!!!! =^.^= =^.^= purr-Zzzz

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  37. Dear Gail....the first thing I noticed was the beautiful colour combination......

    It is a very pretty pink moth....and I bet you will miss some caterpillars......(perhaps that is the wildlife gardener coming out in me)....

    Each to their own Gail....have fun.......

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  38. what a pretty moth, but not as pretty as your Salvia flowers.

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  39. I couldn't find any caterpillars my friends...just the detritus of some critter...then what do my eyes she!! A small grasshopper! These guys are everywhere this summer.

    gail

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  40. Hey Gail. Just wanted to say thanks for the info on the 'Azurea' ~ I'll double check. If it would be hardy here, I'd love to have it. I remember looking up several salvias from your site last year and it seems like mostly they weren't hardy in my zone. :-(

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  41. I hope you catch all the rascals before they get to taste your beautiful Salvia. That shade of blue is outstanding!

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  42. Hi Gail your pink moth on the Basil is great - isn't nature wonderful providing such camouflage! I love Salvias too - we grow quite a few here although some don't like the frost much and prefer a more sheltered spot.. hope you're having a good week Miranda

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  43. As pink and pretty as little stealth is, his chompers have got to go! I do love the shade of blue in your salvia; I don't have that one. I'd love some Seeds?!?! Although, you'll be lucky to get any seeds if the plant gets chomped to death;-( Go out and get em~the caterpillars,that is.

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  44. Ooh, that is a really gorgeous blue. I don't blame you for wanting to protect it. That's cool that you found out more info on that moth. It's so fascinating how they're only found in two very separate parts of the U.S.

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  45. Oh, Gail -- You'll laugh. When I started to read your post, I kept reading "saliva" for "salvia" and was thinking, how does that little moth catch caterpillars with its saliva? Is it sticky? Then, of course, I caught on. Must have been your "chompers" header that made me so "mo(u)thy". It's very pretty. Would be a shame to squish it when there are so few... Perhaps next year you can plant a little extra basil for the bugs.

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  46. Helen, I am totally letting them be...they've found the Salvia Black and Blue and seem quite happy. They really are wonderful looking. Something has chomped on the Salvia azurea...but it might flower anyway! gail

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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