Caterpillars are sometimes fuzzy and cute and they eventually turn into beautiful butterflies, but long before emerging from the cocoon the little critters can be a devastating force that can wreck your garden plants. While there are potent chemicals on the market that will kill caterpillars, not everyone is comfortable spraying poison around their garden and lawn to control these pests. As an alternative, you can opt to use a homemade natural method to repel and remove caterpillars and help protect your property.
Soap and water is effective for more than just getting your hands clean. It can be a deterrent for caterpillars when sprayed directly on your plants. Put one tablespoon of soap flakes into a liter of warm water and stir thoroughly until all the soap is dissolved. Put the solution into a spray bottle and spray the plants in your garden to eliminate caterpillars.
Protecting new foliage on plants from pests is important in getting your garden off to a good start. Give the critters a sweet goodbye by mixing one cup of molasses into a liter of water and then spraying the solution on new plants to get rid of caterpillars. This mixture will also help defend against grasshoppers and possums.
Garlic and Pepper
Caterpillars, all types of worms and even aphids cannot stand the combination of garlic and pepper regardless of how delicious many humans may insist it is. Prepare a spray by combining 1 tbsp. of dried red pepper, 1 minced onion and 1 tsp. of soap in a gallon of water. Blend the ingredients and let them stand for 24 hours to mix thoroughly. Strain the water into a spray bottle and use it on slightly damp leaves. This will keep your target pests away as well as deter squirrels, chipmunks and dogs from digging around in your plants.
Since you are probably going to be watering your plants anyway, you should take the opportunity to use the hose to get rid of the caterpillars in your garden. This is a simple, natural way to remove them. Spray plants directly and knock the caterpillars loose from the leaves. If you water each morning this will remove the pests consistently. Make sure you spray the leaves on the top and bottom to knock all of the caterpillars off. You can always kill the caterpillars manually once they are on the ground if you choose.
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.