Finding the best solution for trees and people to live in harmony.

Kowhai caterpillar

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30 Jan, 2024

Kowhai caterpillar

Is your Kowhai looking a little worse for wear and losing its leaves?

I’ve noticed my tree here in Pukekohe has started to get some holes in it and I know who the culprit is. The Kowhai caterpillars arrive around Spring and can stick around through to Autumn and will often totally strip your Kowhai Tree.

The moth is native to New Zealand and the tree and caterpillar have lived and survived together for many years. After losing the leaves the tree will usually make a full and speedy recovery with a fresh flush of new leaves, so there is no need to be too alarmed. The caterpillars also provide food for fantails and wax eyes, so it’s not all bad.

If you catch the caterpillars in the early stages of eating the foliage on the tree, then you could shake your tree vigorously and the critters will fall off and you can squish them accordingly.

You can also spray with neem oil or another natural product if you can’t bear your tree being unsightly for a while, but remember to do this after dusk, so as not to poison the bees.