Hi, my name is: Caterpillar

Describe yourself: I am a child star, and appear in a really well known children’s book! It’s true, I am very hungry, and even though I am very young (we are the larvae of moths and butterflies), my enormous appetite is impressive! I’m very recognisable and come in many sizes and colours. 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.

Hobbies: Eating and chewing leaves and sometimes boring into fruit. I 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.

Likes: Leaves, (especially soft, fleshy ones), fruit, fleshy young flower buds. I’m good at hiding and have some great camouflage techniques!

Dislikes: Birds, Assassin Bugs, Paper Wasps, Lacewings and Ladybirds. I hate soaps – like home made chilli soap, or store bought stuff. I can’t stand Dipel… that stuff makes me totally sick! Success Naturalyte really ticks me off!

You’ll know you’ve met me when: Your plants’ leaves are full of holes; there are loads of my dark green droppings around, and your fruit and flower buds have big bore holes in them!

Breaking up ain’t hard to do… if:

  • Spray your plants’ leaves with water and knock me and my mates right off our perch!
  • Squash me and my mates by hand or [ay the kids next door 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.
  • Release some Bacillius thuringiensis bacteria to kill me and all members of my family. (It hurts no others!) You can buy this in your local nursery.
  • Cover your edible crops with fine mesh or similar. Then my beautiful mum can’t land and lay her eggs.

Photographs: Elaine Shallue, SGA