Hello, I’m a Caterpillar
I am the young larvae of moths and butterflies and will often be called after my parents, such as the white cabbage butterfly nymph caterpillar.
I’m a child star, and appear in a really well known children’s book! It’s true, I am a very hungry caterpillar, and even though I am very young. My enormous appetite is impressive! Coming in many sizes and colours, I am very recognisable.
I’m even known to be striped or spotted. I hatch from an egg and from these humble beginnings I rapidly grow. By the time I’m a teenager I can be from 25mm to 40mm long.
Mostly I associate with my siblings, although other moths and butterflies may also have laid their eggs in the same veggie patch.
WHERE DO I HANG OUT
I Love leaves, especially soft, fleshy ones, some fruits and fleshy young flower buds. I’m good at hiding and have some great camouflage techniques!
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE BEEN MUGGED BY CATERPILLARS
Your plants’ leaves are full of holes; there are loads of my dark green or black droppings around, and your fruit and flower buds have big bore holes in them!
I love eating and chewing leaves and sometimes boring into fruit. I’ll work late into the night and often chew young plants right off at ground level! When I’m an adult, I fly around laying eggs for the next generation to emerge.
HOW DO YOU MAKE CATERPILLARS FEEL UNWELCOME
Squash me and my mates by hand or pay the neighbourhood kids to do it! It’s icky but effective! Collect me in a bucket and feed me to the chooks! Encourage or release some of my well known enemies like Assassin Bugs, Ladybirds and Lacewings (see also Good Bugs in your garden #1). Release some Bacillius thuringiensis bacteria (sold as Dipel or Vegetable Dust powder) to kill me and all members of my family. (It hurts no one else in the garden!). Put solar butterflies in your garden as I don’t like competition from my own sort and I don’t know the difference between real and fake butterflies. Cover your edible crops with fine mesh or similar. Then my beautiful mum can’t land and lay her eggs.