I'm visiting grandparents in Albuquerque, New Mexico and am trying to help perk up some of their potted and hanging potted plants. It doesn't take long for plants to dwindle in this area (dry and hot and high altitude).
I keep finding tiny caterpillars (or worms?) that are no longer than the width of my pinky finger nail. They're white with one wide horizontal black stripe (not from head to tail, just across abdomen). They are not fuzzy, and have no spikes. They are chewing on the flowers only from what I can tell, Petunias specifically. They chew on them before the bloom is even open! And the ones that have opened get torn up too!
I treated for mites, and the spray consisted of garlic oil, cottonseed oil and neem. The mites disappeared, but these little white and black buggers did not.
Can you please help me to identify them for me, so I can research how to get rid of them? I'm not finding matching pics online. Or do you have any tips to get rid of these? I know the Petunias specifically won't last too too much longer, but until then I'd like to keep up with them as much as possible during my stay.
Please refrain from discouraging keeping these flowers in this climate or recommending others-locals here have already warned us. My grandmother just moved here, has little income to get more and it gives her comfort to look out the window and see her flowers, during hard times.
This is a picture of what might be the "baby" or "larvae version" of pest. It's not a good picture, and was taken at night with flash, so you can't see markings, but he's white. (I'm still trying to get a good picture, my luck- they're hiding when I try to get a picture!)