Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies. Many of them, such as Leafroller caterpillars, Looper caterpillars, White Butterfly caterpillars, Diamond Back Moth caterpillars, Tomato Fruit Worm and Fall Webworm are well known to gardeners trying to grow fruit, vegetables or other plants. Caterpillars are voracious eaters. They can be regarded as eating machines whose sole purpose in life is to eat and grow to a point where they have sufficient energy stores to enable them to pupate and emerge as the adult butterfly or moth. The problem for gardeners and commercial growers is that they eat the leaves of crops and ornamental plants.
I like butterflies, and would encourage you to grow plants in your garden specifically as food for native butterflies like swan plants to feed the Monarch caterpillars or Kowhai to feed Kowhai moth caterpillar. But because when we cultivate crops, many plants of the same type grown in the same place give the pest caterpillar species that prefer these plants an unnatural feast. Numbers can explode to plague-like proportions, devouring all our hard work.
Prevent Caterpillars Eating Your Garden
Chemical insecticides such as Carbaryl can be sprayed or dusted on vegetables and fruit to kill caterpillars that might eat them. But most such insecticides will have withholding periods where the fruit or vegetables cannot be eaten after treatment. Many people would prefer to protect the crops without the use of a chemical insecticide.
Luckily, the gut of insect larvae such as caterpillars is unusual in that it is alkaline rather than acidic and the naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis kurtsaki (Btk) will grow in the alkaline gut. Here in the presence of insect specific gut enzymes it produces proteins that are toxic to the caterpillars.
Certified Organic Technology
Kiwicare has recently released a BioGro certified Organic NO Caterpillars which uses this Btk technology. This product can be safely sprayed on fruit and vegetables with no withholding period.
Organic NO Caterpillars controls pest insect caterpillars and other leaf eating larvae on fruit, vegetables and ornamentals. It is safe to handle, does not affect the plants or beneficial insect species but is deadly to plant damaging caterpillars when used as directed. It will control all types of caterpillars including leafroller, looper and white butterfly as well as diamond back moth larvae, tomato fruitworm, and fall webworm. Beneficial insects such as ladybirds and bees are not harmed.
Getting The Timing Right
If possible apply to plants when caterpillars are young, before plant damage occurs. Shake your sprayer regularly to prevent settling. Spray to the point of run off (i.e. liquid begins to run off leaves). Thorough coverage is essential so try and spray undersides of leaves as well as top. Repeat spraying every 10-14 days. For improved performance and most economical use with Kiwicare NO Waste Spray Stick. Do NOT use when rain is forecast within the next 8 hours.
Make sure you enjoy your summer fruit and vegetables and not the caterpillars.
Kiwicare is New Zealand’s own manufacturer and distributor of pest control, garden care and home maintenance products. The Kiwicare website contains advice on the eradication and prevention of all sorts of pests that bother us in New Zealand. Learn how to get rid of rats and mice, flies, spiders, ants, cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs and other creepy crawlies. Protect your plants from aphids, grass grub, caterpillars, weeds and more. Keep biting insects at bay with the Safari range of insect repellents. See the BioGro certified organic range of products to help you stay pest free without chemicals.How to Stop Caterpillars Eating Your Garden,