Caterpillar That Eats Passion Fruit Leaves
This beautiful orange and black butterfly looks sweet, but it lays hundreds of eggs on our passion fruit vine leaves.
At first, the eggs are bright yellow, but after a time, they turn a browner shade before hatching.
The tiny caterpillar babies favor these passion fruit vines leaves (maracuya) and will quickly grow much larger. We’re not sure if they eat anything else on the farm, and we haven’t seen a lot of these butterflies, but have discovered dozens of egg groupings.
Our solution has been to just tear off the leaves when we find the eggs and then step on them, simply squishing them, or we toss the leaf into our tilapia fish pond.
It may actually be best to leave some of them to eat your passionfruit vines. The passionfruit tends to produce more fruits when it’s stressed out, so having a small infestation may produce a more plentiful bounty and dutifully eliminating all of these caterpillars. Turn your enemy into a friend by hiring him!
Josh, one of the owners of the butterfly garden in Montezuma, has identified this butterfly for us as a “Dione Juno” http://tolweb.org/Dione_juno/72863. He also alerted us that the following other species use the passion fruit as their “host plant”:
Nymphalidae Agraulis vanillae
Nymphalidae Dione glycera
Nymphalidae Dione juno
Nymphalidae Dione moneta
Nymphalidae Dryas iulia
Nymphalidae Eueides isabella
Nymphalidae Heliconius besckei
Nymphalidae Heliconius ethilla
Nymphalidae Heliconius numata
Nymphalidae Heliconius sara
Nymphalidae Philaethria dido