This is my second attempt at vegetables and I have been battling these voracious little critters since putting my seedlings in the ground... they leave my tomatoes alone but every thing else is getting munched on ,my butternut squash, strawberries, and my cucumbers. I haven't seen any on my watermelons yet. I have been doing rounds of my garden squashing the beasts but they are EVERYWHERE! They have wiped out the foliage of two trees already:( I can't walk through the yard without getting a nice collection in my hair and on my clothes...it's that bad...I also rent so banding the trees is not an option...plus most of them are on someone else's property. Any advice would be wonderful...hope everyone is having a great day.
Buy some Bt (either a spray or dust) & apply it to your plants, bushes & trees. End of problem.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a natural occurring, soil-borne bacteria that has been used since the 1950s for natural insect control. It consists of a spore, which gives it persistence, and a protein crystal within the spore, which is toxic. That toxic protein differs, depending on the subspecies of Bt producing it, yielding a variance of Bt toxic to different insect species (or none at all). When the bacteria is consumed by certain insects, the toxic crystal is released in the insects highly alkaline gut, blocking the system which protects the pestís stomach from its own digestive juices. The stomach is penetrated, and the insect dies by poisoning from the stomach contents and the spores themselves. This same mechanism is what makes Bt harmless to birds, fish and mammals whose acidic gut conditions negate the bacteriaís affect.
The caterpillars do seem to be abundant this spring.
They have already eaten all the fruit on our blueberry and rose bushes.
I blame the increase on the aerial spraying for caterpillars a few (3?) years ago. They said they killed 80% of the caterpillars. In my opinion, this meant that natural predators died of hunger. It takes longer for predators to recover than it does for prey - hence the over abundance of caterpillars.
I am leaving my garden to Mother Nature in the hopes that the predators will increase in numbers this summer, to protect the garden next year.
One good thing - birds have plenty to eat - they have abandoned our feeders. :)
Caterpillars have many natural enemies. Predators devour caterpillars, often in great quantities. Some of the most important predators are rodents; reptiles; bats; birds; spiders; nematodes; and other insects like beetles, true bugs, and fly and wasp parasitoids.