Curled leaves on your plants could be hiding caterpillars

12 June 2013

OK – I’m back, if after a bigger gap than I’d hoped. I haven’t been totally incapacitated, but it has been very painful sitting at the pc, so all computer tasks have had to wait. It’s probably a good job it’s rained today: I haven’t been tempted to do too much and suffer a relapse. 

I bet you’ve seen plants with their leaves twisted together. You may not have really noticed what was going on, only gained a vague impression of the plant not looking too healthy, but it is worth stopping to take a closer look.

Curled leaves on a penstemon

Curled leaves on a penstemon

You will probably see traces of some silken thread (a bit like cobweb) pulling the leaves together – like in the right hand photo above, which is a sure sign there is, or has been, a caterpillar in residence.

In the right-hand photo below, you can see that the caterpillar has wound a lot of silk around itself for protection. In both right-hand photos, you can see black specks, which are caterpillar poo – called frass – another sure sign that there is something in occupation.

Curled leaves on nettles

Curled leaves on nettles

If you gently pull the leaves apart, no more than you have to, you may see a caterpillar. I found two whilst taking these pictures, but in both cases they rapidly wriggled down out of sight, so I pushed the leaves back together and left them to it – I was invading their homes, after all.

Isn’t it amazing that something so small and without the advantage of arms, let alone fingers or opposing digits (i.e. thumbs) can wrap themselves up like this? It is like you or I managing to wrap ourseves in king-size sheets with our arms tied behind our backs. Is man really as clever as he takes himself to be?


2 Comments to “Curled leaves on your plants could be hiding caterpillars”

  1. hey, very interesting post, I shall be paying more attention to the curled leaves on any plants thank you 😀 .

    • Great – just what I was hoping for. There is so much wildlife out there that we’re not aware of – we need to take more time to see it and appreciate it.

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