the march of the butterflies (and the worms that eat your produce)

 

much like the march of the penguins, the warmer months welcome the “march of the butterflies”. although beautiful, beware - these attractive assassins lay sneaky eggs under the leaves of many of our favourite brassicas, leafy greens and their moth friends do the same with our precious tomatoes!!!

back when i first started growing in my airgarden, i noticed these beautiful butterflies hovering around my kale plants, little did i know they were laying eggs that would ravage all of my hard work. there are some easy things we can do to keep these butterflies at bay.

there are 5 main ways to combat butterflies and moths from laying eggs (which turn into the cabbage worms) & also managing them if they are already feasting in your airgarden.

  1. spray your plants’ leaves with water and knock me and my mates right off our perch!
  2. spray some yates natures way to kill the worms  (see table below for details).
  3. cover your edible crops with fine mesh or similar.
  • this physically stops the butterflies from being able to lay eggs. we have a custom net on the way, but in the meantime here is a great net from bunnings: insect netting
  1. plant smelly herbs to confuse them such as sage, dill and coriander.
  2. plant land cress - barbarea vulgaris somewhere else in the garden. this plant attracts the butterflies to lay their eggs.  when the caterpillars hatch, they die from eating the leaves that are poisonous to them.

 

What they Look Like  

 

cabbage moth

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cabbage moth eggs

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Solutions to Fix

 

cabbage moths that lay eggs on the underside of plants like kale, broccoli and rocket. and also tomato worms (budworms) who burrow into tomatoes and wreak havoc like their above mentioned cousins;

 

  1. yates natures way caterpillar killer: 
  • once a caterpillar eats treated foliage, it stops eating but may take up to 3-4 days to die and drop from the leaf.
  • DO NOT spray when conditions are hot, or when soil is dry and plants are suffering from moisture stress. the best time to apply is in late afternoon.
  • read the label and mix as instructed.
  • spray when caterpillars or their damage first appear. It is important to spray both sides of all foliage.
  • respraying at 5 – 7 day intervals may be needed as more caterpillars hatch or under rainy conditions.

 

  1. all-round insecticide:
  • chop four large onions, two cloves of garlic, and four hot chillies.
  • mix them together and cover with warm, soapy water and leave it to stand overnight.
  • strain off that liquid and add it to five litres of water to create an all-round insecticide.

 

  1. soap spray:
  • add two tablespoons of soap flakes to one litre of water and stir thoroughly until completely dissolved.
  • there is no need to dilute this further, just spray it on as is.
  • this controls caterpillars, but only when they are newly hatched and small.

Damage they Do

 

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so keep your eyes peeled, stay vigilant and have your defences at the ready. a little offence can keep the butterflies and their hungry offspring on the backfoot. happy airgardening tribe!!!