First, I'll set the scene:

Location: South Florida

Temperature: 75°F - 85°F most days

Rain: Had been fairly dry until the last couple days

Affected plant: Mandevilla with yellow flowers

Yellow Mandevilla


There usually isn't a day that goes by that I don't take a close look at my mandevilla (multiple) in order to guide the vines and such. So, I was surprised to notice this morning these little orange insects on the bottoms of a bunch of leaves that looked like the life was being sucked out of them.

Insect and eggs on removed leaf

I cut most of the leaves they'd infested and hit the rest of the plants with some high-pressure water to hopefully knock off some of the remaining insects and the little black specs (eggs?) that accompanied them.

After that, I sprayed a combo of water and Dawn soap around the affected areas.

What are these little guys, and what's the best way to keep them in check?

Insect fully grown

Insects on the Mandevilla

  • 2
    I don't know what they are but soap and water at regular (5-6 day) intervals will control them. Soft bodied insects have no defenses against soap.
    – kevinskio
    Dec 18 '12 at 2:02

I am no expert about bugs or caterpillars. But still I have a guess: from what I found what you have there could be Oleander Caterpillar (Syntomeida epilais at Wikipedia - however the pictures there did not lead me to this conclusion).

See here for an article I found which lead me to this PDF of the University of Florida about these caterpillars. Look at Fig.2 on page 2. The small ones seem to be similar to your pictures.

In this PDF there is also a section about controlling this pest.

  • Patrick, I think you're right. Though my picture isn't very sharp, the one of the single insect looks a lot like figure 3.
    – magzalez
    Dec 20 '12 at 12:10
  • I should add that I also read they can be found in Mandevilla.
    – magzalez
    Dec 20 '12 at 12:13

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