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You can almost never see it coming until you see the mess it leaves behind. And you're only left wondering whether you could've done anything at all to save your precious vegetables. Well, you could have and of course, you still can! The key to dealing with pests is understanding the weaknesses of each and acting before they run rampant on your crops.
Here's how you can stop the caterpillar from becoming a nuisance in your garden:
Know the species of caterpillars
The very first step is to understand which species of caterpillar you're dealing with. Cabbage loopers are pale green with a black stripe running down their back and love to eat cabbage, collard, and kale. Corn worms appear around August and September and eat beans, lettuce leaves, and tomatoes. Finally, cutworms act fast and attack the base of seedlings when the plant is young.
If you feel that your vegetables will be susceptible to caterpillars, then protect them with some opaque fence so that caterpillars never enter the area. Make sure that the soil you use has the right amount of nutrients to ensure that plants develop the immunity to fight pests and diseases as well.
Handpick and check for eggs
If you feel that the infestation isn't very severe, then you can go the old school way of handpicking caterpillars (use rubber gloves) and dropping them in a bucket of soapy water. While you're at it, also check your plants for larvae or eggs to avoid further infestation.
Birds are your friends
Use bird seed containers to attract avians to your vegetable patch (as long as you don't have any berries) and let them deal with your caterpillar problem. It's a natural solution that makes things easy for you.
Hide your vegetables among herbs
Use the masking power of herbs like sage, peppermint, mugwort and lavender because most pests dislike the smell and stay away from these crops. So, you not only add beauty to your garden but also repel caterpillars naturally!
Use natural pesticides
If you can get some BT or Bacillus thuringieNSIS, then there's nothing better to keep the pests away! Just read the instructions carefully and get all the hotspots where caterpillars love to hide like the tops and bottoms of the leaves, base of the stem, etc. Soon your caterpillar problem will disappear! If you're having trouble finding some BT, then try using Neem oil spray but be warned that some beneficial insects too may perish along with the caterpillars.
You're now armed and ready to face down any caterpillars that are threatening your vegetable patch. Act quickly and this won't even be a slight worry in your mind, and your cabbage and lettuce will rest easy!