Coming soon to a garden near you ….

April 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

I noticed the first cluster of butterfly eggs on a brassica this morning.

Let the battle begin!

Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies. They mostly eat anything in the brassica family.

There are three species of caterpillars in the UK- imported caterpillars (green caterpillars with fuzzy skin), cabbage loopers (green with white stripes, arches its back as it walks) and diamond backed moth worms (smooth and green, leaf miner in early larval stage).

Caterpillars do not particularly like red cabbage. A traditional remedy for killing caterpillars is to sprinkle flour on brassica leaves which they ingest and this glues up their insides, or try cayenne pepper, which they dislike. Spraying with neem and insecticidal soap or dusting with pyrethrum is effective. Products containing bacillus thuringiensis will kill caterpillars. Biological controls include the parasitic wasp trichogamma brassicae which targets eggs.

Many gardeners do daily rounds picking off eggs, caterpillars and other pests and killing them, which will usually reduce populations to manageable numbers within a week or two. Physical barriers are the only sure way to keep caterpillars and moths off your veg. Covering with netting or fleece prevents most pest damage to crops.

 

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