This morning as I retrieved the newspaper from the front lawn I paused to check on my basil plants. I’m leaving them to set seed so I will have plenty of new plants in the spring. While checking on the seeds’ maturity I spied several caterpillars munching away at the leaves. Here’s a photo of one resting on my basil.
I left the caterpillars to their morning meal and went inside to find my butterfly book. After scanning dozens of caterpillar photos, the best I could come up with for an identification was a Dubious Tiger Moth (Spilosoma dubia). Unfortunately this butterfly is not commonly found in Texas. If you recognize this caterpillar let me know. I see them every year so they must be common to North Texas.
In the meantime, they’re munching away at my basil leaves while the seeds ripen and fall to the ground. Once we get a hard freeze, I’ll wait a week or two and then rub off the seed capsules before removing the dead basil plants. Next year I’ll have hundreds of new seedlings – more than I can possibly use.