Caterpillars in the garden (in a good way)

Generally speaking, caterpillars are not to be encouraged in the garden* but this cute watering can is an exception to the rule. OK, technically it’s for children but it’d also be ideal for watering windowboxes so if you have nostalgic memories of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, place your pre-order now. Gardendivas.co.uk are giving all groweatgift.com visitors 10% off – hover your mouse over the link on the sidebar for details. And if you can’t wait until June (when the watering can becomes available) for a retail kick, they also have a fantastically quirky bird bistro to keep the birds fed in style, gorgeous pastel garden trugs and a cute garden gift set with polka-dot gloves, twine, seeds and soap.

* Now is the time of year to act on caterpillars. The eco way to ensure they don’t eat all your plants is to go round with a bucket (or tupperware container – plastic butter packets work well as a free option as the lid stops the caterpillars escaping) and pick the caterpillars off leaves by hand – check the undersides of the leaves as they tend to lurk there. Then take them to the nearest piece of wasteland and release them so that they can turn into butterflies in their own good time. The less eco way is to spray the leaves with pyrethrum or bifenthrin but that’s less than ideal as it will kill the caterpillars and thus reduce the amount of butterflies there are, which means you don’t get to enjoy them flitting around your garden. Of course, if you’re a lazy gardener and like the idea of having prettiness to admire without having to do a lot of work, you can always plant a butterfly garden to attract them – lavender, teasel and ivy (for winter sap) are all good butterfly-attracters that can also be useful in other ways (from lavender cocktail syrup to teasel hedgehogs and pressed leaf greetings cards  – the latter both being great craft projects to try with kids.)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I can see why caterpillars (at least in large numbers) are undesirable in the garden. But it is important to know that caterpillars are a very important component of the web of life. You need caterpillars if you want to have butterflies and you need caterpillars if you want to have birds and many other creatures. Even bears feed on caterpillars. Read about how important caterpillars are to many birds: http://pollinatingbee.blogspot.com/2010/12/feed-birds.html
    Or get Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home and visit the website http://bringingnaturehome.net/
    You will never think about caterpillars the same way after getting such information.

    Reply

    • Ooh – thanks for such an informative comment. I hate the idea of people getting rid of any wildlife (though I find it hard to feel much love for slugs, particularly when they eat all my strawberries – but even then I opt for the head-torch and manual collection at dusk or copper tape around borders methods rather than beer traps or other things that’ll kill them) which is why I recommend moving caterpillars to somewhere they won’t do any damage to your fruit and veg, rather than killing them. I’ll definitely check out those links – cheers.

      Reply

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