Common Name: Canna leafroller
Scientific Name: Calpodes ethlius (Stoll)
Description: Caterpillars hatching from eggs are initially clear white, but become semi-transparent pale green with dark orange heads marked with black as they grow. As with other skipper caterpillars, the “neck” behind the head capsule is somewhat constricted (strangulated). The adult stage is a large brown skipper with clear white spots of the front and hind wings. The wing span is about 2 inches.
The lesser canna leaf roller, Geshna cannalis (Quaintance) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), also feed on Canna species. Caterpillars of the celery leaftier or greenhouse leaftier, Udea rubigalis (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), are slender, pale green with black heads dark when small. They grow through several stages and become almost 3/4 inch long, pale yellow with a broad white stripe within which a dark green band runs along their backs. They feed on the underside of leaves, and web leaves together with silk strands. Infested leaves accumulate black granular caterpillar excrement (frass). They pupate within rolled over leaves. Adults, emerging from cocoons in 10 to 12 days, are brownish moths with wings marked with darker lines and a wingspan of about 3/4 inch. The life cycle is completed in about 40 days, and seven or eight generations can occur annually.
Caterpillars also injure aster, celery, chrysanthemums, cineraria, ivy, rose, snapdragons, sweet pea and other soft-leaved plants.
Life Cycle: Adults lay hemispherical whitish eggs on host plant leaves. Caterpillars develop through several stages (instars) over a period of several weeks before pupating in rolled leaves in a pale green chrysalis with a projection (front tubercle) on the head. There are three or more generations annually.
Habitat and Food Source(s):Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts. Adults have siphoning mouths. Caterpillars feed on Canna species. They use silk threads to “tie up” newly developed, unrolling leaves. They feed inside the rolled leaves through much of their development. Leaves become tattered and often malformed as terminal growth becomes tangles in rolled leaves. Adults are active, powerful flyers, and sip nectar from a many types of flowers.
Pest Status: A skipper, also called the Brazilian skipper, feeds on leaves of canna lilies, using silk threads to seal leaves and prevent them from unrolling. Feeding activities cause these ornamental plants to look unsightly.
Literature: Arnett 1985; Holland 1913; Howe 1975; Klots 1960. Metcalf et al. 1962; Westcott 1973.