<— Trees look like this??
If you remember the incredibly popularized caterpillar that was always known for its sensational hunger, then it is no surprise that the creatures you find eating the leaves off your tree are just as hungry as their ancestor. Caterpillars are becoming quite an issue these days, and learning what to do about them is an important step to be taking… so good job!
Caterpillars are the larvae of both moths and butterflies; the variety of different caterpillars out there also leads to a variety of different pest levels.
– – Some caterpillars can eat an entire plant’s leaves in one night!! – -, while others may work at a slower pace. No matter how quickly they can scarf down a tree though, all caterpillars will be gnawing on some sort of plant in order to work towards their prestigious butterfly figures. As harmless to you as caterpillars can be, the harm they do to your plants is another story. There are many organic ways that can help, as well as some chemical ones as well. It truly depends on whatever method suits your fancy. I’ll give you some examples for you to work with.
First thing first, simply handpicking any caterpillars you find chomping on your plants and relocating them will help do the trick. It has been said that dropping them into some soapy water would do the job of killing them, too (if relocating isn’t your thing).
If handpicking them seems a little to flashy for you, there are other certain oils and powders that can also work towards a plush and voluptuous yard. There is neem oil, which can be sprayed on plants in order to control caterpillars. This is a natural vegetable oil that will not do the damage that occurs with other chemical treatments. These oils are dormant oils, meaning they will smother the eggs before hatching. This treatment is time sensitive and needs to be done early in the spring. Here is a video of spraying dormant oil over hemlocks (we are targeting woolly adelgid here and not caterpillars, but the process is the same). There is also a powder available called bacillus thuringiensis, which is a natural bacterium that will also keep the caterpillars at bay.
For a sneaky trick under your sleeve that could repel caterpillars all together, plant a variety of herbs and flowers around your landscape. Scents like lavender, sage, and peppermint are disliked by many insects, including caterpillars.
Another method involves bringing in the birds and letting the natural swing of the food pyramid do its work. Birds and caterpillars are a natural predator – prey relationship and with simply setting up a bird feeder or a bird bath, you should start seeing results eventually.
Of course, all these methods are also followed by the chemical sprays and treatments that can be done to get rid of hungry, hungry caterpillars quickly and efficiently. Whatever method you prefer is entirely your choice. As long as your trees stay full and thick with their leaves, then the winner will be you! It’s now up to you to decide which path to follow. Good luck on your journey.