Dealing with caterpillars

catepillar_web

Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. They are voracious eaters can can easily destroy a crop. The two most common caterpillars we deal with in our garden are the cabbage butterfly larvae and the larvae of the tomato bud worm.

Preventive measures to avoid caterpillar problems

  • Plant companion plants! This confuses the parent butterfly and deters it.
  • Avoid dry stress and mulch beds in dry conditions.
  • Avoid underfeeding of plants.
  • Regularly, every second week and after strong rain apply worm-juice or seaweed solution (should look like a thin tea, 1/2 a watering can per bed) as a tonic for the plants.
  • Build nets around the crops we know to be vulnerable: tomato, chili, the cabbage family. The mesh size of the net needs to be fine enough to physically block the parent animal, a moth or butterfly, from reaching the plant.

Dealing with caterpillars infestations:

  • Collect the caterpillars you can find and manually destroy them.
  • Remove infested plant material. You can put it into the compost, the caterpillar will not survive composting.
  • In cases of serious infestations or under tight netting apply a spray containing bacterial spores (bacillus thuringiensis).¬†These bacteria do not affect humans, but they will make the caterpillars ill and die.
    The recipe uses a commercial product called Dipel, read more here.