Butterfly Larvae Destroying my Citrus Trees

Asked June 5, 2013, 2:18 PM EDT

How can i control them? I hate to use pesticides as I believe that the butterfly population is as threatened as bee population. Or how can i prevent the butterflies from laying their eggs on my grapefruit, lemon and lime trees (that i grow in pots). When i see the Monarchs flying around my yard, i know it's egg laying time. Last year, you could hear them 'crunching' on the leaves and they just destroyed the foliage - and hence no fruit.
Or . .. should i be content to grow the plants to feed the larvae and help the butterfly population? thanks.

Tarrant County Texas citrus butterflies

1 Response

Are you sure these are monarch caterpillars? Monarch butterflies usually lay eggs on milkweed plants. In fact many of us plant milkweed in our gardens just to be eaten by monarch caterpillars. Usually Giant Swallowtail caterpillars eat citrus leaves. Go to for more information: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/citrus/giantswallowtail.htm I have also attached picture of the monarch caterpillar and the giant swallowtail caterpillar for you to see. Bt is the safest control. Just be careful to only apply it to the citrus. Rob Bauereisen at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is a citrus expert. Give him a call, 817-871-7686. He may have better ideas.