Regain control over your lush garden by knocking out caterpillars. Stick to a few tips and hacks to have a clean, fresh, and caterpillar-free garden. – Gro Indoor
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In the Know - Tips to Get Rid of Caterpillars Quickly

by 09 Apr 2023

In the Know - Tips to Get Rid of Caterpillars Quickly

You step into your backyard garden in the middle of a fresh morning and find your favorite plant chomped down by a pest. How would you react?

The love for gardening usually goes hand in hand with loathing for pests. They spread through and eat away the fruits of your labor. While some of these pests are beneficial for the ecosystem, there are myriad other creepy crawlers that can mar the flowers, crops, herbs, and shrubs. Topping the list of the most common garden pests are caterpillars. These tiny ravenous critters gobble the leaves and nap in the remaining foliage, all drowsy after a delicious feat.

Although many gardeners have accepted this as an inevitable nuisance that comes with gardening, to get rid of the caterpillars in your garden, you can do a few things and regain control over your lush garden. Let's talk about this in this article, but first, let's find out if all caterpillars are bad for your plants.

Are all Caterpillars Bad for Your Plants?

Undoubtedly, butterfly and moth caterpillars are serious garden insects. However, all caterpillars are not identical; neither are the plant’s enemies. Several other insects are also generally referred to as caterpillars, such as cutworms. The question is, are all of these insects dangerous for your plants?

Well, according to the experts, not all caterpillars harm your garden. Many turn into butterflies, meaning that you might not want to kill them as they will pollinate the flowers. Before you start killing caterpillars, make sure to know the type of caterpillars that have taken over your pretty garden.

One beneficial type of caterpillar that you should never kill is the Monarch butterfly. Allow this species to fly freely amid your plants because it does them better than harm!

How to Spot a Caterpillar Infestation?

First up, you should know that a caterpillar infestation has taken over your garden. If you are not sure how to identify it, maybe it’s time to take a stroll in your garden. These wiggly mischief-makers are mostly active during summers.

If you see tiny holes in leaves with ragged edges or notice that the shoots have been chewed off, it’s highly likely a caterpillar problem. Sometimes, the leaves will look wrapped up in silk, while other times, when it gets worse, you will see a tiny pest crawling all over your plants.

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars?

Your first thought might be to cover up all your precious shrubs and flowers all day, but that's not possible. With a little attention and careful behavior, you can stay ahead of these tiny pests.

Many issues with caterpillars arise from crop selection and the fact that these crops are grown outdoors. Stick to a few tips and hacks to reduce the chances of a caterpillar breakout. Let's discuss them now!

Choose the crops carefully

Like other small insects that target the same kinds of plants recurrently, caterpillars are no different. They usually attack the same plant or crop every time, like lettuce and eggplant.

You can use up your garden space creatively and prevent caterpillars by rotating the crops every year. Avoid growing plants of the same family at the same place every year; instead, opt for a new spot every time you plan to prevent the breakout of other diseases.

Try the barrier fabric technique

A barrier fabric works effectively to protect plants from caterpillars. You can use a row cover easily, but you have to make sure that it is in place before the caterpillars lay their eggs on the plants; otherwise, you will only help them by protecting the caterpillar eggs from natural predators.

Push down the bamboo poles on the ground and cover their tops with plastic pots to prevent the fabric from snagging at the poles. Drape the fabric over the poles and tie it with heavy bricks or stones. It is best to put row covers when the season begins and remove them only when flowers start to grow out.

Use cardboard paper as a repellent

The idea is to keep a barrier in place to prevent caterpillars. A few types of caterpillars can be prevented by making a cardboard ring around your plants. Cut this cardboard out of your toilet paper tubes and encircle them around the stems of the plants.

Plant crops/flowers having a strong scent

Many plants keep caterpillars at bay. Peppermint, lavender, and sage give off a strong scent. For reasons unknown, caterpillars don’t like attacking these plants. To shove them off, try planting these around your garden.

How to eliminate caterpillars from the garden?

The caterpillar stage is the very early stage of butterflies and moths. You can't do much to ensure you have a clean insect-free garden. But let's not lose hope. There are still plenty of ways to ward them off.

After mating, the insect usually lays its egg on the host plant, mostly on the underside. If you constantly keep a check on your plants, you can spot the caterpillar before it is too late. From eliminating them manually to chemical intervention, we have several methods to deal with these caterpillar issues. Let’s talk about them now!

Buy or attract beneficial bugs

Caterpillars might not be your favorite snack, but they are definitely on the list of favorites of many other animals. They'd love to gorge on them any time of the day. If you are looking for an easy way to get rid of the caterpillars, you might want to consider the option of bringing some wildlife to your garden.

Many animals will enjoy having a hearty meal of Trichogramma, wasps, nematodes, and chalcid wasps. You can both purchase these tiny creatures online and leave them wild in your garden, or you can opt for another way by growing plants that will naturally attract the wasps. Parsely and carrot plants fall under the category of plants that attract wasps.

If you want quick results, don’t waste your time planning; instead, buy caterpillars online. Having birds like warblers and orioles that eat caterpillars can help too. Set up a birdbath or arrange a bird feeder to attract these birds to your garden.

Remove caterpillars manually

To make sure of the best care possible, check them daily. This will not only help you spot a caterpillar infestation, but it will also keep you abreast of other issues that your plants might be having at that time. Once you control the infestation before it spreads widely, it will be easier for you to develop the habit of checking your plants regularly.

Check the top and bottom of each leaf for tiny eggs, as caterpillars sometimes lay their eggs there. You may find just one or a cluster. Carefully remove the caterpillar and drop it in a bucket filled with soapy water. If you find the entire leaf covered with eggs, remove it completely and take it away from your garden.

You may also find some small caterpillar nests around on a few plants and trees. These might look freshly spun from silk and hanging from the branches. You can use a long stick to poke the nest and dispose of its contents in soapy water early morning when they are inside.

Use Neem Oil and Plant Washers to eliminate caterpillars

If all else fails, try Neem Oil and Plant Washers and Neem oil. They are natural repellents that ensure maximum protection from all kinds of pests and bugs on plants. Since neem oil is made out of neem tree seeds, it dissolves within minutes and can be sprinkled at dusk to avoid harming beneficial bees.

One of the many benefits of using plant washes and neem oil is that it won’t harm the beneficial pollinators such as butterflies and bees, allowing you to stay free from worries.

Cook up your own Chili Spray

Unlike some human beings, caterpillars aren’t fond of chilies. So you can use chili spray to ward them off from your garden. Make your own chili spray to win this war against the caterpillars.

To make a DIY chili spray, all you have to do is:

  • Grind chili peppers in a food chopper (three and a half ounces).
  • Mix this powder to boiling water (half a gallon), stir it and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Now add cold water (half a gallon) and a few drops of dishwashing soap.
  • Spray it on the plants and see the results within 24 hours of spraying. Apply this as often as you want.

Buy products containing Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Controlling the caterpillar population might not be as easy as you think. It might require you to find products that contain a stronger caterpillar killing agent. If that’s what you require, choose products containing Bacillus thuringiensis.

Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally- occurring bacterial spray. It comes from the soil and can kill caterpillars by causing them to starve to death. Also referred to as BT, when you spray it on plants, it attacks specific insects and pests without harming human beings.

Before using Bacillus thuringiensis, make sure to pay attention to the dilution rates, as they might vary according to the plant they need to be sprayed. Read the directions mentioned by the manufacturer as well.

Some top pesticides to buy are mentioned below:

Get back to the basics- use insecticides

The first-ever technique that comes to anyone's mind is using insecticides, as the tradition of using them dates back ages ago. For serious infestations, the best bet is to opt for chemicals. There are several chemicals specifically formulated for killing caterpillars; buy them to get quicker results.

A great thing about these chemical insecticides is that most of them are eco-friendly, target only the caterpillars, and ensure not to harm you and your plants.

Ending Note

While sturdy plants can survive even an aggressive caterpillar attack, their insatiable nature to feed on young plants and seedlings can render them worthless. The best line of defense you can take against them is to be combative in your tactics.

Planning ahead of time and being consistent in your approach will keep you updated on all the problems well before they become inexorable.

Contact our experts at 866-GRO-INDR or check our website at We’ll assist you in developing a plan to combat caterpillar infestation by recommending you the right products and techniques.

Sep 9th 2022
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