Nothing worse then waiting ages for something to be ready to be picked only for it to be destroyed by caterpillars. You’ll most commonly see your kale, broccoli, cabbages being destroyed but a lot of other things can be fair game for the cabbage moth butterfly’s offspring.
This is probably one of the most common question I get asked about is how to control caterpillars organically. We do it using 2 methods.
What works for me
Regular inspections can keep your caterpillar invasion at bay. Check the underside of leaves of your plants for the tiny yellow eggs and wipe them off before they hatch. Caterpillar picking can be a fun activity for your kids too, and also makes a tasty snack for your chickens.
For our aquaponics system we usually plant all our caterpillar prone plants in a pod together and cover it with one of the Vegepod’s covers, but any fine net will do. It will also help protect your plants from possums. The downside of this, if you’re planting plants that require bugs to pollinate, you’re also going to lock those guys out, but it works a charm for those leafy greens.
We use a commercial spray called Natures Way Dipel, which can be found at any good nursery. This is safe to use on Aquaponics systems and wont affect your beneficial insects as it only affects caterpillars who eat the plant. You do need to reapply often as it will wash off.
Other methods that you may want to try
I’ve heard some people create Cabbage Moth Butterfly Decoys. As butterflies are territorial they wont come down to the plants. The idea is to cutout some butterfly shapes with old ice cream containers and pop them around the garden. I’ve tried this once, it didn’t work that great for me, however I am not sure if I had the density right. Whatever the case it might be a fun little outdoor activity to do with the kids.
Home made sprays
Whilst home made sprays using chilli or garlic may work for some people, I did try this and had no success. It also affects the beneficial insects which you really want around.
I hope my experience helps you keep those caterpillars at bay. Now if someone can give me some solutions for grasshoppers I’ll be a happy camper!