What to Watch For: Caterpillars in Berries

— Written By Hannah Burrack
en Español

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The season’s first question about caterpillars in blueberries has arrived, so growers and homeowners should be on the look out for developing populations. Several caterpillars species in the genus Datana feed on NC blueberries. These are generally called yellow necked caterpillars. I generally get several questions about them each year and have posted about them in the past on my former blog.

Datana spp. caterpillars feeding on blueberry. Photo via NC State University Plant Disease and Insect Clinic.

Datana spp. caterpillars feeding on blueberry. Photo via NC State University Plant Disease and Insect Clinic.

In addition to yellow necked caterpillars, red humped caterpillars (Schizura concinna) may also feed on blueberries and blackberries and cause similar damage.

In general, post harvest leaf feeding caterpillars in blueberries or blackberries are relatively easy to control. They are often localized to a few bushes, and if caught early can be pruned out or hand removed. In the uncommon cases where yellow necked or red humped caterpillars are wide spread enough to justify insecticide treatment, they can be controlled with a range of conventional and organically acceptable insecticides. See the NC Agricultural Chemical Manual for more detailed management information.