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Every hobby gardener fears being eaten by caterpillars. In extreme cases, the larvae of butterflies and other insects appear in large numbers and completely bare the plants in the home garden. If you want to fight these harmful pests, you don't necessarily have to resort to chemical insecticides. Natural home remedies are a harmless alternative and protect human health, as well as the flora and fauna. These are particularly useful in the case of a low infestation.

detect infestation

Caterpillars colonize the local gardens from spring to autumn. However, the occurrence of voracious pests is strong weather dependent. If the spring was unusually cold and very rainy, most insects lay their eggs on the leaves of the plants later in the summer. From these, the unwanted caterpillars hatch with enormous hunger. In nature, larvae are found on almost all plants, and they quickly show signs of being eaten. Butterflies mainly specialize in laying their eggs on a certain plant species. The hatched pests then only stay there and do not spread to neighboring ones of a different kind.

  • Caterpillars appear in the garden from April to September
  • Colonize vegetables, fruit trees and flowers
  • Even hedges and shrubs can be affected
  • The first signs are leaves that have been eaten or even completely eaten away
  • Often only the ribs of the leaves remain
  • Are extremely voracious and quite fast
  • Black globules under the plants are the excrement of the caterpillars
  • Often hiding under the leaves
  • Depending on the color, these are not easy to spot
  • Many caterpillars are as green as the leaves for camouflage
  • Determine exact caterpillar species by internet research
  • Natural home remedies are gentler than toxic insecticides
Caterpillar faeces as black globules under the plants

fight caterpillars

1. Collection

The easiest way to fight the harmful larvae is to collect them. However, the whole plant has to do this carefully examined become which has been infested. The pests like to hide and often have a camouflage color. If you don't want to kill the caterpillars, you should release them in a nearby forest. This allows the larvae to pupate into beautiful butterflies, especially when it comes to endangered species. The pests can also be used as bird seed, either for pets or for nesting birds in the garden. If the caterpillar infestation is extremely large, you can rent special equipment from specialist garden supply stores that can be used to quickly remove it.

  • Wear gloves when collecting
  • Caterpillars are unpleasant to touch, slippery or hairy
  • Lift and inspect each sheet individually
  • Often hidden under the leaves
  • Also inspect stems thoroughly
  • Caterpillar droppings indicate infestation and its course
  • Especially look for large plants above the droppings
  • Professional aspirator available to borrow
  • Spraying with a water jet is also possible
  • A sharp jet with high water pressure is important
  • Then collect all the fallen caterpillars
Box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis

2. Soapy water

To combat caterpillars, certain home remedies have been known for this purpose for many generations. This includes, above all, the good old soap. However, not all caterpillar species respond equally well, so this method must be tested under observation. In addition, only natural soaps be used without fats and oils. Soap products with a high oil content clog the pores of the plants and have a damaging effect, which means that the leaves can even fall off completely.

  • Use either pure soft soap or curd soap
  • Dissolve soap in sufficient water
  • Then pour into a larger spray bottle
  • Spray infested plants several times with the lye
  • Be generous, but don't overdo it
  • Repeat often, but only after the soapy water has dried well

3. Tobacco & Ash

Most animals find the smell of tobacco extremely repulsive. Therefore, this can be used well for fighting the caterpillars. However, the correct dosage is very important so that the affected plants are not damaged. However, not all caterpillar species react negatively to tobacco, some prefer it, as it deters their natural predators as a result.

  • Nicotine in tobacco drives away many larvae
  • Moisten already affected leaves
  • Scatter loose tobacco on top
  • Alternatively, ash can also be used
  • Nicotine smoke drives them away as well
  • Burn tobacco in the fireproof container below the plant

4. Ichneumon wasps

Ichneumon wasps are biological home remedies to combat the offspring of various insect species. The parasitic wasps are alive parasitic and lay their eggs directly inside the caterpillars for reproduction. For this purpose the larvae are anesthetized. The stunned pests can then be removed much more easily by collecting or sucking them off. The useful insects have nothing in common with normal wasps, they neither attack humans nor sting them.

  • Ichneumon wasps are available in well-stocked garden shops
  • Are sold as cultures of pupae
  • Are about 1-3 mm in size
  • Resemble flying ants
  • Strategically expose acquired dolls
  • Position near affected plants or the garden bed
  • Ichneumon wasps hatch directly on site
Dusty wasp, Ichneumonidae

5. Glue

A classic home remedy for containing a caterpillar infestation is a well-positioned one glue ring. This blocks the paths of the pests that are crawling around. In this way, the larvae's ability to move is interrupted, preventing them from getting to the next leaves. The caterpillars cannot overcome the glue rings, they begin to weaken and then starve. The weakened caterpillars are also much easier to collect and vacuum.

  • Ideal for fruit trees and other types of trees
  • Also possible for bushes with thick trunks and branches
  • Glue rings should be green
  • White rings attract too many beneficial insects
  • Attach glue rings to strategically sensible places
  • The best is at the bottom of the trunk and on the larger branches
  • Re-glue the rings regularly
Glue rings on trees against caterpillars

6. Algae Lime & Garlic Powder

Just as with tobacco, many caterpillar species also find the smell of garlic and algae lime repulsive. The two agents are suitable both as a preventive measure and also for fighting. However, the effect must first be tested here, as not all caterpillar species react negatively. In the event of a heavier infestation, these agents can successfully prevent the return of a new generation of caterpillars.

  • Dust leaves with garlic powder
  • Proceed in the same way with algae lime
  • Possible also water-based solution with both agents
  • Spray the affected plants generously
  • Repeat both methods more often

7. Tension nets

If the caterpillar infestation gets out of hand, the affected areas can be covered with nets. The larvae of the voracious cabbage white butterfly in particular can cause a lot of damage in the garden and must be combated promptly. If you use this simple home remedy early on, you can completely prevent egg laying.

  • Already act at the beginning of spring
  • Use fine mesh nets
  • Span beds and plants
  • Wrap crowns of east trees with nets

8. Aromatic herbs

Butterflies are repelled by strong smells, especially those of certain herbs and other crops. Planting with various herbs is therefore a good idea to combat a possible infestation before the eggs are laid. These plants exude an intense smell and keep butterflies away. In addition, these herbs are also used in the kitchen and improve the taste of many dishes.

  • Create a mixed bed with herbs
  • Both in the kitchen garden and in the flower bed
  • Mixed cultivation with tomatoes and celery is ideal
  • Plant some garlic plants between the flowers and vegetables
  • Plant the edges of the beds with aromatic herbs
  • Best are mugwort, dill, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme

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