Nothing is more aggravating than losing plants and precious yield to caterpillars. Most growers wait until there is a problem, and then respond by treating it. Unfortunately, by the time a problem is caught, plants are already suffering the effects. You can stop caterpillars from harming your plants by following these simple tips
Don’t attract moths!
Moths are most active at night, and they are attracted by light. To reduce the chances of moths laying eggs on your plants, shield garden areas from light at night. Also consider having a light on outside that is far away from the garden to attract moths away from the garden.
Insects that eat caterpillars
You can stop caterpillars from eating your plants if you eat them first! If that doesn’t sound appetizing, consider introducing predators that eat caterpillars to your garden. Caterpillars are low on the food chain, so just about anything that eats bugs will eat them. Ladybugs, hover flies, dragonflies, green lacewings, soldier beetles, spiders, tachnid flies, and yellowjackets are common predators that eat caterpillars.
Many of these beneficial insects are available for purchase from local nurseries. Introduce beneficial bugs to your garden if you have an infestation, but not before. “Good bugs” can turn on you (and eat other beneficial insects) if they get too hungry!
Stop Caterpillars from hatching
Watch for moths to lay eggs in early June, July, and then again in September and October. Check carefully under the leaves of plants for eggs, and remove them if you find them. Inchworm eggs are dark grey to black in color. Other caterpillar eggs can look white or yellow in color. Eggs will often be in clusters, but some species of caterpillar lay individual eggs, so look for both!
Stop caterpillars from spreading
Prevent hatched caterpillars from destroying a plant by wrapping a piece of painter’s tape around the stem and major branches. Coat the tape generously with Vaseline, Tanglefoot, or other grease. If caterpillars do hatch on your plant, the damage they do will be confined to a smaller section of the plant. The caterpillar may also get caught in the grease, making it easy to find.
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