Your pantry may hold the key to caterpillar control.
Your pantry may hold the key to caterpillar control.

It seems a shame that beautiful butterflies and moths have to go through that distasteful caterpillar stage. The worst part of the equation is the damage that caterpillars inflict on your helpless garden plants. If you find the thought of hand-picking the beasties repulsive, get rid of them with your own environmentally friendly homebrew.

Pepper Spray

You can make caterpillar killing spray with fresh peppers. Wear gloves and eye protection and finely chop enough habanero peppers to fill 1/2 cup. Crush 6 garlic cloves. Puree the peppers and garlic with 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in the blender. Pour the mixture into a quart glass jar and cap it tightly. Set it in direct sun for two days. Strain the pepper solution through a coffee filter into a spray bottle. Spray caterpillars generously.

Oil Spray

Combine 2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 teaspoon liquid soap with 2 cups warm water. Funnel the solution into a spray bottle and spritz caterpillars liberally. Don’t use this on orchids, squashes or hairy-leafed plants.

Safety First

Test a drop of the mixture on your plant and check it 24 to 48 hours later. If there aren’t any signs of damage, it’s safe to treat caterpillars on the plant with it. Use pesticides on a calm day under 85 degrees Fahrenheit when no rain is expected. Early mornings before honeybees become active are best.

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