Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies. The term also describes the larvae of other insects such as sawflies. Most caterpillars are herbivorous though about 1% of them are insectivorous. Their most distinctive features are their hairy, segmented bodies, three pairs of legs and five pairs of prolegs and, they move as if they are measuring the length of their track. Caterpillars are voracious feeders that can easily strip your greenhouse plants of all their leaves and in the process, leading to reduced plant vigor. Use one of the following organic pest control methods in your greenhouse kit today.
1. Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt.)
This free occurring bacterium lives in the soil and is effective in eradicating caterpillars because, during sporulation, it produces delta endotoxins (pore-forming toxins) that are harmful to caterpillars and other pests.
2. Use predatory insects and birds
Ducks and chicken enjoy feeding on caterpillars, as do praying mantises. You can invite your chicken into the greenhouse so they can help with biological control. If you live in an environment that has praying mantises then these too can help. You can encourage birds to perch around your greenhouse by building feeding areas. Most bird species feed on caterpillars.
3. Use caterpillar repellent herbs
Sage, peppermint, mugwort and lavender, all produce scents that repel caterpillars effectively. Therefore, consider planting one or two of these plants when setting up your greenhouse kits.
4. Practice crop rotation
You can patrol the greenhouse either during the day or at night and handpick caterpillars off the plants. Consider relocating the picked caterpillars to some location where they will cause little damage or, you can kill them by dipping them in mild soap solution.
Note that handpicking is not as effective but is a method all the same.