Butterfly attack on my Cycas Revoluta.


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Butterflies look beautiful but it destroyed lots of Cycas plants in our city and I rescued my Cycas from Butterflies. Last year during the summer time when my Cycas started flushing then the caterpillars secretly ate all the flush and destroyed it and so I chopped the top new flush and this time I kept a fence on it and rescued it from butterflies. These butterflies lay eggs that hatch into caterpillars that camouflage its skin colour which match the green flush of Cycas. The strange thing is that caterpillars can turn themselves into any colour that match the target prey plants to save themselves from birds. Even I haven't identified that it was damaged by green caterpillars as I thought it was caused by sunburn but when I chopped those new fronds then I saw the green caterpillars hiding under the fronds eating them secretly.

This Cycas in black pot is a pup from the mother plant of my another Cycas plant that was actually destroyed by the caterpillars. Its mother Cycas has just started flushing with 14 new fronds. I will post its pictures later.
 

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Too bad as that is such an attractive plant! It is not necessary to chop as the control of Bacillus thuringiensis (bT) and neem oil both work to kill the bugs.
 
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After I chopped the infected flush then the Cycas crown tried to rot but I cured the rotting Cycas crown with turmeric powder. I learnt a lesson not to chop the growing spiral infected flush and it is better to use brush to remove the caterpillars.
 
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I always forget manual removal works as well. Its a labor of love.
Though Cycas is a tough plant it is very sensitive to over watering. Cycas can die by crown rot or root rot or the deadly white scale insects. Cycas is an expensive plant and everybody bows to protect their plants. The best way to protect the Cycas is to keep it inside a mesh during flush time. Prevention is better than cure.
 
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Finally my other Cycas flushed and I am always keeping it inside the mesh till the fronds turn dark green. Caution: Don't remove the mesh even if the fronds grow to its full length but we must wait till they turn into dark green fronds otherwise the light green fronds are prone to caterpillar attacks and they can destroy it as the light green fronds are tender and not strong. So never remove the mesh till the fronds becomes dark green and tough.

Surprisingly with lots of shade and a spoon of perlite on top of the Cycas crown gave me spectacular growing results as each Cycas frond has reached over 45 inches long and 1 feet wide as shown below. Tallest frond is 50 inches and still growing every day.
 

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