Learning How To Get Rid Of Caterpillars In 8 Ways

Caterpillars are lovely creatures that will turn into graceful butterflies in the months to come. However, gardeners typically find them more frustrating than fantastic. As all of your hard work blossoms and grows, the last thing you want is caterpillars eating away at your plants. It leaves you pondering how to get rid of caterpillars in your garden, and you want to do it the easiest way possible.


Before a caterpillar transforms into a caterpillar, it has to eat massive amounts of plant material. There are different varieties of caterpillars. For example, the cutworms can eat all of the leaves off of one plant in a day. Gardeners have to be diligent and watch for any signs of an infestation.


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Gardeners may be tempted to use a chemical pesticide to rid their garden of caterpillars. However, using a pesticide also destroys some of the beneficial and needed insects like ladybugs, predatory wasps, and earthworms. Also, plants absorb the chemicals, and your family consumes these plants. You may be like me and not want to give your family any produce touched by chemical pesticides.

Things You Will Need to Get Rid of Caterpillars

  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) Powder
  • Plastic cups
  • Cardboard or plywood
  • Porous polyester sheets

Understanding the Types of Caterpillars

Before you start the process of removal, you need to know the different kinds of caterpillars. Each type is attracted to different plants, cause different damage and look differently. Here are some of the common varieties you might encounter.


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These are mentioned above. They live below the soil surface and will each through stems during the night. To prevent cutworms, always use sterile soil to start seedlings. To stop the damage caused by them, check out method number four below!

Tomato Hornworms

As indicated by their name, tomato hornworms love tomato plants and can strip them leafless quickly! On their posterior end, you will find a large spike. One of the best ways to get rid of these is manual removal. It is best to kill hornworms in soapy water.


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Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

Please don’t kill these beautiful caterpillars! They love the foliage of dill, carrots, parsnip, parsley and a few other herbs. They are white and yellow striped with a large, bright green exterior. Handpick and place them away from your garden.

Cabbage Moth

Check out number five below! Covering your plants, especially brassicas, is one of the best ways to handle cabbage moth caterpillars.

8 Ways to Get Rid of Caterpillars


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1. Manual Removal

Your first step to removal is handpicking all of the caterpillars you find on your plants. It is a good idea to check your garden at night to find slugs and caterpillars. You can either drop them in a bucket of soapy water, killing them, or relocate them to a different area.

You should also check your garden for eggs frequently. Removing all of the fallen leaves and debris around your plants will deter caterpillars. If you find eggs on a leaf, pinch or snip off the leaf and remove from the garden.

2. Neem Oil

Many gardeners like to use Neem oil to control caterpillars and other bothersome pests. It is ideal for whiteflies, leafminers, and thrips. However, Neem oil may kill some important insects like bees and earthworms, so it is best to be cautious. To use Neem oil, you must spray the foliage with it.

3. Bring in the Birds

Even though you may want to keep birds from your berry patch, setting out bird feeders and encouraging birds to thrive in the area around your garden can help get rid of caterpillars. Chickens and ducks, if you have a flock, love these little insects! They are a tasty treat!

4. Bacillus Thuringiensis

Another natural method of removal is to dust your plant foliage with Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) powder. Bt can kill caterpillars but won’t do any harm to the insects your plants need. Bt is a bacteria that naturally occurs in soil. The bacteria infects and destroys the lining of their gut. Luckily, it is entirely non-toxic for humans and animals. Insects, such as caterpillars, will either stay clear of it or die. Bt is hard to find; you may have to find a specialty store or order it online.

5. Deter Cutworms

To avoid damage caused by cutworms, put a stiff collar around your delicate seedlings. A plastic cup or a toilet paper roll can serve as a collar to protect against these harmful caterpillars.

6. Shield Plants

Another way to get rid of caterpillars is to shield the plants with a sheet of porous polyester fabric. These sheets are porous and allow light to pass through to the plants, but they prevent any pests from reaching them. Making your row covers is simple, even though you can buy premade row covers. Stick hoops into the ground and cover with perforated plastic or fabric sheeting. Remember to weigh down row covers with bricks or other heavy items!

7. Plant a Border

If you think ahead, you can line the edge of your garden with certain herbs and flowers. Insects are deterred by the smell of certain plants like lavender, mugwort, sage and peppermint. These plants have strong scents, and they disguise the smell of the plants the caterpillars are attracted. The goal is to make them look elsewhere for their next meal. So, if you have a problem caterpillar, place a few of these plants around them!

8. Crop Rotation

Another natural way to get rid of caterpillars is by practicing crop rotation. It requires planning ahead of time. An example is not planting tomatoes in the same place two years in a row.

One of these eight methods will help you get rid of those annoying caterpillars! Try a few of these options, and your garden will be free of bothersome caterpillars. Learning how to get rid of caterpillars is quite easy!

We hope this has been helpful for you. Let us know your preferred method of getting rid of caterpillars.

Learning How To Get Rid Of Caterpillars In 8 Ways
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Tina Martino

My passion is gardening. Along with my husband and children, each year we grow a garden large enough to provide our family of five with over half of our needed produce. Besides vegetables and a small berry patch, I also focus my attention on beautifying our home with strategically placed flowers, herbs, and flowering plants. Gardening is more than just a hobby; it is a way of life.

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