Caterpillars are the larvae of insects in the order Lepidoptera, which includes butterflies and moths. In a first phase of its life cycle, the butterfly or moth lays its eggs on the plant and in a few days the caterpillar is born, characterized by a strong appetite and the need to feed continuously in order to develop and become a new butterfly. It is this voracious and aggressive appetite that gives rise to one of the most frequent problems that we find in plants and crops, which can cause, in the event of a plague, such serious damage that they determine the total loss of the crop.
There are a large number of chemicals used to protect plantations, however, these can be potentially toxic to humans and produce harmful effects on our health. We will explain how to eliminate caterpillars in a natural and effective way, without side effects, and being respectful of the environment.
How to detect caterpillars on plants
Detecting the presence of caterpillars in garden or garden plants is relatively simple, firstly because of their size and colors and secondly because of the visibility and evidence of the symptoms they produce in the vegetables.
Some of the symptoms of caterpillars on plants that can be noticed more easily are galleries, defoliation, holes and bites in the superficial leaves, although they can also attack and feed on young shoots and fruits. Also, you will see an accumulation of black dots on the leaves, which are actually caterpillar feces.
If your plants have bites, holes and black spots, or other of these signs, keep observing these plants well because you will easily end up seeing the caterpillars, whether they are green and small or with more colors and somewhat larger in size.
How to eliminate caterpillars naturally with ecological pesticides
Making a pesticide or homemade pesticide , without chemicals, that ensures the health of plants and does not generate toxic waste is relatively simple, knowing the properties of some plants and other natural products. These are ecological pesticides that we recommend to eliminate plant caterpillars naturally :
- Garlic: it is a natural repellent for insects. It is enough to crush a head of garlic together with a couple of glasses of water and let it rest to get an effective insecticide. Although, it is true that, to facilitate its application, it is advisable to mix it again, once it has been allowed to stand, with three liters of water, to obtain a more liquid and easy-spraying product. In this other article we show you more recipes for natural insecticides for plants , including garlic.
- Tomato: the tomato plant produces during its metabolism molecules called alkaloids that act as an excellent repellent to drive away aphids, worms and caterpillars. To prepare the pesticide, it consists of crushing or chopping the leaves of this plant and mixing them with water, letting the mixture rest. As in the case of garlic, it is convenient to dilute the mixture again to make it easier to use.
- Coriander: also known as Chinese parsley, coriander is a plant native to Asia, which has multiple properties, being used for digestive problems, infections caused by fungi and bacteria, some pain and of course, to repel the most annoying species from our gardens and orchards. For its application it is necessary to boil the plant for about 10 minutes, strain the mixture and spread it with a spray.
- Nettle: it is a plant considered “weed” because it grows easily in fields and gardens and because it causes stinging and inflammation in the skin, when contact with it occurs, due to the release of an acidic substance located in its hairs. However, it is also known for its medicinal properties and for being an excellent pesticide, so that, by mixing 100 grams of nettle with 10 liters of water and letting it rest, a perfect pesticide is obtained.
- Tobacco: the tobacco plant has an alkaloid called nicotine that acts as a repellent against pests, so that by mixing about 60 grams of natural tobacco with 1 liter of water we can obtain an excellent pesticide.
- Eggshells: there are other natural products of animal origin, such as eggshells, which, in addition to being a perfect repellent, have multiple benefits for plants, acting as a fertilizer rich in calcium carbonate. Its application consists of crushing the peels and spreading them at the base of the plants.
Prevent and eliminate caterpillars on plants with natural balance
Otro método efectivo, natural y respetuoso con el entorno y con nuestras plantaciones consiste, precisamente, en propiciar la biodiversidad de las especies y su equilibrio de forma que, mediante la plantación de cultivos aliados o favoreciendo la existencia de ciertos depredadores naturales, se puede combatir la aparición de plagas como las orugas.
Es el caso de plantas como, por ejemplo, la albahaca, caléndula, menta y salvia, que tienen olores tan fuertes, que las orugas y otros insectos no suelen soportar, actuando por tanto como un perfecto repelente. Sencillamente, coloca algunas de estas plantas alrededor de cultivos en los que has detectado alguna vez las orugas.
In addition, another form of biological pest control is to use certain natural predators, as there are some that feed on caterpillars, such as parasitoid wasps, predatory wasps, beetles, frogs, toads and birds . In this way, by favoring their presence in the habitat, through techniques such as the installation of nesting boxes for some birds, or the maintenance of humidity and ponds for frogs and toads, we can guarantee the health and safety of our plants in the long term. .