Skeletonized leaves and the villainous varmint who did the deed

Asked October 3, 2018, 9:05 AM EDT

The first of two attached images shows damage to a flowering shrub (unknown variety, but tentatively identified as a Rose of Sharon by my friend whose plant was attacked), where the leaves have been "skeletonized" to such an extent that only the leaf venation remains, with all the intervening green segments of the leaves eaten away. The second photo shows the apparent malefactor juxtaposed against a measuring tape to indicate its size. If possible, could you identify the larva and the plant. Thanks again for this excellent service which HGIC in Maryland provides. It's a boon to amateur gardeners.

Montgomery County Maryland rose of sharon shrub caterpillar rose of sharon moth

1 Response

The plant looks like a Rose of Sharon. The larvae looks like the caterpillar of the Rose of Sharon Moth, Anomis commoda. This is an introduced species from Japan ranging widely along the Eastern Seaboard north to at least Massachusetts.

This may not be an issue next season. However, you should monitor the shrub from late May onward. If you see the larvae, you can handpick or use Bt, a biological control if the capterpillars are under an inch.
Send us photos next season as soon as you notice symptoms.

mh