How To Keep Caterpillars Out Of The Garden

A caterpillar free garden

A Caterpillar

Creating your dream garden can be so rewarding especially as your plants are growing healthy and vibrant, there are so many garden types to chose from that it is just mind-blowing but what can really place a damper on things is to have uninvited guest invading our gardens seeking to make a meal out of our plants.

I have seen the damage of what garden pests can do turning a dream garden into a nightmare, there are so many pests which can wreak havoc but the good news is we can strike back and win the war on these garden insect pests by bringing their invasion to an acceptable level.

My personal story

Working in the gardening and landscaping profession can be so rewarding, I have been in this field for some time now and have seen the good the bad and the ugly. I have had to treat so many garden plants which were infested with caterpillars.

It is interesting to see how these insects can really do damage, if you have and issue with caterpillars then don’t ignore, as soon as you spot them or any sign of them treat right away to stop them from spreading because if ignored can cause serious issues.

What I want us to focus on in this article is how to keep caterpillars out of our gardens and landscapes to ensure that our garden plants are growing their best.

How to keep caterpillars out of the garden

Signs of caterpillar in the garden

The first step in ridding your garden of caterpillars is looking for signs, these signs include.

Caterpillar on plant leaves
  • Visibly seeing them
  • Eggs of moths
  • Leaf Drop
  • Slimy or brown roots
  • Brown Patches
  • Buds Dying
  • Leaf that curls
  • Caterpillar droppings on the leaves
  • Plant leaves may have holes, that’s a sign of them feeding

Steps to take

Step 1- The first step to keep in mind is that some caterpillars after the molting process becomes a beautiful butterfly while others become a moth, so the first step in the right direction is in identifying the type of caterpillar that is in your garden.

If you are interested in filling your garden with butterflies and don’t mine a few of your garden plants being used for food then you would want to keep them around, if the caterpillars are identified as moths then you may want to get rid of them.

Step 2- The second step in eliminating caterpillars is in choosing the right methods, while some methods will eliminate some caterpillars these seem methods would be ineffective against others.

Step 3- The use of the right pesticides are so important because what you don’t want is to use a pesticide which is harmful around humans and pets, handpicking them that is known as mechanical control is laborious but is a safe way.

A. Using neem oil or Bacillus thuringiensis is a great choice just remember to read the manufacturer’s label before applying, the use of beneficial insect which is known as biological control is another way to bring caterpillars under control this process may be slow but it is a safe method that is so popular.

B. Soap and water is a safe way to rid the garden of caterpillars the way this work is to drop them in a bucket of soapy water, this will suffocate them causing death.

C. The use of a thin mesh is so important, completely covering your plants with mesh will keep your plant’s caterpillar free.

D. Chili pepper spray is another natural remedy which will work wonders, the way this works is to mix 3 ounces of dry chili peppers which are grounded with half a gallon of water, bring the chili pepper and water to a boil for 8-10 minutes.

Let this mixture cool and add 3 drops of dish liquid, shake this mixture well so it can blend. Once this mixture cools place in a 32 oz spray bottle and test on a small portion of your plant, wait for 24 hours and check plant, if this mixture has no adverse effect on your plant then proceed to spray the entire plant.

E. Using burlap tricks the caterpillar of falling into your trap, caterpillar likes to hide during the heat of the day so what to do is wrap your tree truck in this material. They will find the burlap to be a good hiding place or refuge, while they are under the burlap crush them.

F. The practice of introducing birds into your garden to patrol and to make a meal out of caterpillars is another proven method which is safe and effective, the good part about introducing birds is that your garden will become a wildlife garden where you can watch birds in their natural habitat which can be so much fun especially for kids.

G. Attracting lizards to your garden will work also.  For more on wildlife, gardening refer to the category section of this website.

Step 4- A clean garden is a healthy and caterpillar free zone, one thing for sure is many gardens have been overtaken by disease and garden insect pests because of not being properly kept. Rake up and remove all fallen leaves the goal here is to discourage eggs from being laid.

Some favorites of caterpillars

A Swallowtail
  • Lettuce
  • Fennel
  • Beans
  • Dill
  • Cabbages
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Collard Greens
  • Milkweed plants

Additional Information

1. The use of installing plants which has a strong aroma or scent such as rosemary, thyme, peppermint, sage, etc…. will work wonders.

2. The practice of crop rotation is a great solution for a garden free caterpillar zone.

The final word

Caterpillars can be both good and bad depending on the type of eggs which are laid, if it is the eggs of the swallowtail then your garden will have beautiful butterflies if the eggs are laid by moths then, by all means, get rid of them. Following this guide will keep your garden caterpillar free allowing your plants to grow healthy and vibrant.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.