Organic Control for Caterpillars
The deep freeze seems to be over! Frost in the mornings is long gone and we've put our early spring garden plants in! We've put in beets, turnips, lettuce, onions, radishes, leeks, and carrots. Those are all pretty easy to grow and don't come with many issues or pests. We've also put in cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower, broccoli and chinese broccoli, brussels sprouts - greens all in the same family.
We love to eat these greens. So do caterpillars! Moths lay eggs that will all hatch when the temps and climate is right for them - and when they do they have huge appetites! One morning I'll be watering everything, admiring how well they are growing, the next we'll come out with huge holes in the leaves of the plants, whole leaves missing or laying beside the plant because their stem was chewed through.
Left unchecked these tiny guys can do serious damage - sometimes completely wiping out the crop.
We are all organic. We do this because we don't want to eat chemicals and we don't want to have them in and around our home. Luckily for these there is an organic solution - and it works really really well. Bacillus Thuringiensis or B.T. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis
B.T. is a natural occuring bacterium that is completely harmless to humans and other mammels. But it is deadly when properly sprayed on your greens and then ingested by the caterpillars.
The key to B.T. is to watch your plants carefully. At the first sign of the caterpillars spray the plants. THe caterpillars will ingest the bacterium when eating the leaves, then quit eating and die. During the infestation period spray every 5 to 7 days as neeeded and depending on rain.
We haven't used it for fruit trees before, but last year our nectarine tree (for the first time ever) got caterpillars that dined on the emerging fruit - we'll be ready this year!