What is this?

Asked October 20, 2018, 12:47 PM EDT

Flowering perennials leaves were destroyed by these.. 8 foot tall shrub was devoured within a couple weeks, starting at the tippy top and working their way down the shrub. Please let me know what this is and how to get rid of or prevent next year. My yard borders woods. I have a rough time having a garden as I get so many different pests. Please help! Thanks so much!

Montgomery County Maryland insect id hibiscus leaf caterpillar moth

1 Response

The larvae looks like the caterpillar of the Hibiscus leaf caterpillar moth, Rusicada privata. This is an introduced species from Japan ranging widely along the Eastern Seaboard north to at least Massachusetts. Take a look at the Maryland Biodiversity Website https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/viewSpecies.php?species=7407

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