How to Get Rid of Caterpillars on Plants: 7 Useful Recommendations - Step To Health

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars on Plants: 7 Useful Recommendations

Caterpillars on plants are a very frequent and aggressive type of pest, so learning how to eliminate them is key. Here are 7 great tips!
How to Get Rid of Caterpillars on Plants: 7 Useful Recommendations

Last update: 08 November, 2021

Getting rid of caterpillars on plants should be a priority in your gardening. Although they seem harmless, these insects are actually very harmful. In fact, they’re a common and aggressive type of crop-killing pest.

These small, furry insects come from butterflies and moths. They feed on a myriad of fruits, vegetables, and greens. For example, white cabbage caterpillars consume cabbage leaves, as well as cauliflower, broccoli, and kale leaves, among others belonging to the cabbage family. Meanwhile, borers are inclined towards palm and poplar trees.

On the other hand, certain type of caterpillar prefers melons, tomatoes, eggplant, and watermelon. Pouched caterpillars usually attack leaves, buds, and flowers. We can’t forget the popular tomato caterpillar, either…If you want to learn how to get rid of them, don’t miss this article!

The signs and consequences of caterpillars on plants

Some visible clues will alert you to the presence of these invasive species. The most common ones are listed below:

  • Small holes or bites in the leaves of vegetables (about the size of a pin)
  • Stems curved or with a pale or dark rosette around the damage
  • Broken twigs
  • Tiny black balls that are actually caterpillar droppings
  • Weakness in plants – they will no longer stand upright due to a lack of vitality

Although caterpillars have a life cycle of no more than 45 days, in that short time they can do significant damage. The impact ranges from causing diseases to completely killing the plants they eat.

7 useful recommendations to get rid of caterpillars on plants

Now that you know the traces and consequences of this pest on your plants, it’s time to learn how to eliminate caterpillars from plants. Try the suggestions below.

Oruga en una planta.
Caterpillars cause damage to plants ranging from small holes to the death of the plant.

1. Attract birds to your garden or orchard

Larks, goldfinches, and sparrows all feed on caterpillars. In fact, they’ll become your greatest allies in this mission. Take care of buying or building your own nest houses to attract them!

2. Take advantage of other animals

A widely used alternative to control pests are parasitoid wasps or predators, which are responsible for destroying the larvae, but without affecting the leaves.

However, you may wonder how to get their attention. Well, there’s nothing better than planting aromatic species, such as basil or mint.

Toads, frogs, and beetles are other animals that feed on caterpillars, so they can serve in the biological control of this pest.

3. Use other plants as an attack against caterpillars

Along the same lines, you can actually find certain varieties that effectively repel insects because of their aroma, preventing other plants from getting infected.

Garlic is one example, as are marigolds, mint, basil, and sage.

4. Spray an organic insecticide to get rid of caterpillars on plants

Ask your garden shop for Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), a product made to fight insects such as caterpillars and worms without harming earthworms, birds, ladybugs, or bees.

Among its advantages is that it protects vegetables, fruit, and trees. Thanks to its formula, it acts very fast. Once caterpillars ingest it, they’ll no longer feed and will be dead within 2 to 3 days.

Avoid using synthetic insecticides as much as possible. If you decide to use them, be very careful so you don’t end up making the plant sick.

5. Place traps for caterpillars on plants

Among the options is to have a trap sprayed with female pheromones. The goal is to attract and capture the males to prevent them from fertilizing the females.

This is a good way to ensure they don’t multiply.

6. Use home remedies

If you’re a home remedy lover, these techniques were designed for you:

  • Combine dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Spread the mixture on the affected leaves to get rid of the caterpillars.
  • Boil water and pour in the tobacco from a pack of cigarettes (boiling the ashes is also effective). Then, with the help of a spray bottle, spray small amounts on the plant.
  • Mix potassium soap with water, pour it into the spray bottle, and spray it on your plants to protect them.
  • Pour orange oil on your plants. This is a very practical option that acts as an insecticide and acaricide. It’s a great option since it has a very mild and pleasant smell.
  • Stir garlic powder with a little water and a touch of soap. Once the product is sprayed on the plants, you’ll find that it’s a valuable technique for scaring away butterflies, as they don’t like the smell.

Finally, making homemade pesticides without chemical additives is quite easy. You just need to know the properties of natural products and plants. Here are some examples:

  • Chop or crush tomato leaves, soak them in water, and wait for the mixture to settle. The next step is to apply it to the plant to keep away not only caterpillars but also aphids and worms.
  • Boil a few sprigs of cilantro for 10 minutes, strain the infusion, and pour it into the garden. The truth is that this works as an insect repellent!
  • Add 100 grams of nettle to 10 liters of water and let it steep. Despite its bad reputation, this weed is an excellent pesticide.

7. Check your plants well to eliminate caterpillars

Finally, the best method you have to protect your crop is observation.

Spend some time every day taking a close look at your plants. Some caterpillars are very easy to notice because of their large size and because they form rows. Another group is smaller in size, so they blend in with the leaves. This could complicate the search.

When you find them, remove the caterpillars with a gloved hand, as well as their nests. Use a lighter to incinerate the nests in a controlled manner.

Hacer jardinería.
It is essential to spend time observing your plants. This way, pests can be detected right away. 

How to prevent caterpillars on plants

Place a net over your garden with the edges securely fastened. Experts advise you to install it in the spring season. However, don’t be overconfident; the best thing to do is to still check the area under the leaves once a week.

This action will keep the butterflies away, preventing them from laying their eggs, which can be between 150 and 600 depending on the species. You must know how to recognize their presence: they’re elongated and yellowish.

However, it’s not just about having an orchard or a garden. You also have to maintain it properly to ensure the well-being of each of your plants. Part of this task involves preventing leaves from getting dirty with animal or insect droppings.

Also, when watering, avoid the accumulation of puddles, as they’re the ideal breeding ground for snails, mosquitoes, and other water-loving insects.

It’s worth mentioning that while these tips are quite useful for protecting your plants, caterpillars may not disappear completely. If this happens to you, then proceed to find an expert in the matter.

You’ll definitely like this article: 8 Healthy Foods that are Trending in 2021

Enjoy your planting!

Nothing is more pleasant than keeping your garden healthy. Now that you know a new way to do it, say goodbye to caterpillars. You’ll be ready to enjoy the best herbs, fruits, and vegetables: the ones you have at home.

Unleash the great gardener in you!

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