A big, fat, green, fuzzy caterpillar has been eating my cabbage.
I removed the plants with the most damage. Maybe that was a drastic move. But it seems to me that now I have one or two caterpillars, but in a few days or weeks I will have dozens more. There are still lots of caterpillars-to-be all laid up in the remaining cabbage.
I’m glad I’ve found what is eating my plants. But I’m going to have to do some research on how I can get rid of these guys without harming my plants. I’d like to do it without using chemicals if possible.
When we control pests naturally we take advantage of the checks and balances nature has already had in place for millions of years. For instance, if you have lots of holes in your cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower leaves and regularly see lovely white butterflies hovering around them, it’s likely the Imported Cabbage Butterfly is rearing her children on your precious crops. The natural controls for the small, green caterpillars that are doing the damage can be to plant a few parsley, cilantro (coriander), celery, or carrot plants close to the affected plants and allow them to bloom. The nectar and pollen rich flowers of these plants will draw a wonderful little beneficial insect called Trichogramma to the area. The adult female Trichogramma will lay eggs on or in the caterpillars and once the larvae hatch they eat the caterpillar from the inside out. Another one of Nature’s tools is a bacterium that paralyzes the caterpillar. Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis specifically attacks many caterpillar species and is a very effective and commonplace product in most garden centers. If you want to speed up the predation of your pest caterpillar population you can purchase Trichogramma from many nurseries and online insectaries. Trichogramma work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep your plants free of caterpillar pests.
- “Vegetable Garden Pest Control”
by Don Trotter