Southern Pink Moth in Portland, Oregon

Asked September 4, 2020, 10:23 PM EDT

I saw a question answered by Bill Gerth on this site regarding the Southern Pink Moth now possibly having infiltrated Oregon. I have had several different kinds of salvias in my garden for years, and this year I noticed that the flower buds are all being eaten by tiny caterpillars and a lot of little pink moths flying around. I have identified the caterpillar and moth as the Southern Pink Moth with some online research. It has only eaten my salvias, nothing else. It's devastating since I planted all the salvias for the hummingbirds. I've sprayed BT without success. Is there anything one can do that is not harmful to pollinators to get rid of this moth?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

The Southern Pink Moth has definitely arrived in Oregon and it seems that Multnomah County may be the heaviest affected area here in the northwest. Unfortunately, the caterpillars specialize on salvias.

Bt should be successful if the first one or two bites the caterpillars take have been coated with the spray. In other words, you'll need to repeat applications according to label directions. Once just won't do it.

You can also take matters into your own hands with regular search-and-destroy forays into your plantings.

You could also diversity your plantings for the hummers. Sometimes breaking up a mass of one kind of plant will decrease foraging by a plant's common pests.

Hummers regularly visit Fuchsias, Penstemons, Phygelius, and many more plants which you'll find listed in "Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden" -- https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1541