Hairy Caterpillars In Cardamom Plantations

By Agropedia on 23 Apr 2016 | read

Submitted by Spicepedia

Several species of hairy caterpillars attack cardamom plants and defoliates them. Predominant among them are Eupterote cardamomi, E. undata, E. canaraica, E. fabia, E. mollis and E. blanda. Hairy caterpillars are not regular pests in cardamom plantations. They are polypahagous larvae, voraciously feeding on shade tree leaves at early stages of lifecycle and cardamom leaves at later stages. These defoliators appear sporadically in enormous populations causing extensive damage to the crop. The caterpillars are gregarious in habit and they congregate on trunks of shade trees during the day time.

The adult moths lay eggs on undersurface of leaves of shade trees in groups. The larval period is extensive consisting of seven-ten larval instars and the emerged caterpillars feed on the shade trees for about 3-4 months. Later, when exposed to sunlight with lesser rain, they slowly come down from shade trees and attack cardamom plants. The incidence will be more in new plantations than old plantations.


The caterpillars appear in large numbers causing enormous destruction to the foliage. They feed voraciously on leaves, defoliating the whole cardamom plants in a short time. This weakens the plants and results in loss of yield. Usually the damage is observed during October-December months.


For controlling caterpillars, mechanical collection and destruction and spraying of any contact insecticide are recommended.

Hairy caterpillar incidence can be checked by lopping off and burning branches of shade trees in which eggs are laid. Continuous surveillance and gradual elimination of shade trees favoured for egg laying will reduce the incidence. Caterpillars that are congregating on shade trees can be collected and killed. Set up light traps to attract and kill moths. Spray quinalphos 3ml/lit or 50% w.p. BHC. If severe defoliation is noticed, spray chlorpyrifos @ 0.06%.