Gardening always has its challenging aspects. During the latter months of summer, the White Butterfly is often seen in the Southland garden. There can be so many of them that the drive from A-to-B on country roads has them splatting all over the front windscreen of the car. The cabbage butterfly is particularly fond of Brassica plants, and it’s on the leaf of the brassica plant that the adult butterfly likes to lay its eggs. Once the larvae hatch from the egg sacs, the caterpillar will dine out on your cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower etc…
Here are some of the better ways of getting rid of the caterpillar stage of the life cycle, and preventing the caterpillar from destroying your brassica crop. You can sprinkle Derris Dust over the plants regularly during the egg and caterpillar period. The Derris Dust is a natural insecticide that is made from natural plant root extracts. Derris Dust is toxic to the caterpillar but has low toxicity to humans, bees and wildlife (except fish). It’s easy to apply via a shaker container and it will control caterpillars and other sucking insects. Lightly dust the plants directly from the shaker at first sign of White Butterfly, choosing a still morning – preferably when dew is on the foliage. While the White Butterfly continues to fly, repeat Derris Dust application every 7-to-10 days, or following rain.
Not bullet proof, but you can tediously rub the eggs off the brassica leaves.
Neem tree oil is also an excellent form of control. Neem tree oil can be bought from any half decent garden shop, and is mixed with water and sprayed over the leaf surfaces. The oil is absorbed into the plant’s vascular system, and as soon as the caterpillar starts chomping on the brassica leaf, the Neem tree oil is ingested into the caterpillar (or any other biting or sucking insect). The compound causes insects to reduce or cease feeding, can prevent larvae from maturing, reduces or interrupts mating behaviour and, in some cases, the oil coats the breathing holes of insects and kills them. Neem tree oil is not considered harmful to humans when used in the correct way.
It’s always nice to have great veggies on the table, caterpillar free!