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Garden Pests... Caterpillars

There are a whole variety of caterpillars in the garden some turning into beautiful butterflies and moths many of these have a plant preference in the garden in which to feed from and lay larvae but some are real pests the cabbage white is a particular pest devouring and munching through leaves and new shoots in brassicas sometimes retarding the plant or in some cases causing it to die.

One of the first signs of caterpillar damage is irregular holes in the leaves looking under the leaves for tiny eggs or small caterpillars or rolled up leaves indicate caterpillar problems, spotting the signs early on will save untold damage.

Prevention is sometimes better than cure and using a fine netting to cover the plants or a translucent fabric that acts as a barrier is ideal it allows light and air to reach the plant but prevents the butterflies reaching the leaves so the eggs won't be laid.

Commercial sprays are available in which the leaves are sprayed it is an effective control but please follow the instructions and spray carefully noting the number of days between spraying and harvesting any edibles, using chemicals can however kill off other valuable beneficial insects such as worms and ladybirds.

There are many organic methods of dealing with caterpillars encouraging wildlife into the garden such as a wide variety of birds that will eat grubs and pests. Hand picking them off the plants and either squashing them or placing them in a bucket of soapy water needs to be done at regular intervals but is effective. Try planting certain plants around the garden that act as a deterrent and repel the butterfly such as sage, parsley, lavender, peppermint or pretty pyrethrums.  A biological control may be an option in the form of Trichogramma Brassicae these are a minute wasp that lays its eggs in the egg of the butterfly or moth eating it from the inside out these will destroy over 200 moth spices.


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"Irregular holes in brassica leaves is a sign of caterpillar damage check under the leaves for tiny eggs"