Brazilian Skipper in MD

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Caterpillar of Brazilian Skipper (aka Large Canna Leafroller in the nursery plant trade), Calpodes ethlius (Stoll, 1782) on a suburban MD canna [2018 Aug 31, photo by REB] MD: Prince George’s Co., College Park.  Note the diagnostic black triangle on the head.

Almost as if summoned by yesterday’s Forecast — and my note to fellow MD butterfly observers to be checking their cannas — I glanced at my ONE potted canna in the back yard on the way to filling the bird tray this morning to discover: multiple caterpillars of Brazilian Skipper ripping the canna to shreds.

If we were going to see Brazilian Skipper caterpillars here, this apparently would be the season for it, given that there are reports of a persistent summer colony this year in Cape May and a sighting last week from CT.  Still, it was pretty astounding and I went back inside to contemplate it more fully over coffee.

Had to have been from local oviposition, I decided, since this canna was grown this season from seed off the cannonshot cannas I had last year.  It’s one of the skippers’ favorite cultivars, apparently.  There are very few other cannas in the immediate vicinity.

There are enough caterpillars that they’ll make short work of the canna they’re on, so I figure I’d go drag the one from the front yard out back too.  But of course it has a skipper tent on it as well.  Looks like I may be going foraging in the neighborhood for canna leaves this weekend.

This is the characteristic “rolled cigar” and leaf tent appearance of cannas with Brazilian Skipper infestations.

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