Pest Away Tips

10 Natural Ways to Manage Caterpillars in Your Garden

Caterpillars in the Garden: How to Identify, Manage, and Control Them

When it comes to gardening, pests can be a real nuisance. One of the most common pests that gardeners face is the caterpillar.

These tiny creatures are the larvae of various insects, including butterflies and moths. While they may seem harmless, caterpillars can destroy your garden in no time.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at caterpillars, how to identify them, and the best ways to manage and control them. What is a Caterpillar?

Caterpillars are a type of insect that undergoes metamorphosis, which means they go through a complete transformation from their larval stage to an adult stage. They have a soft, segmented body with distinct head capsules and appendages.

Caterpillars are known for their voracious appetite and can consume large amounts of plant material in a short period. How do Caterpillars Get in Your Garden?

Caterpillars can find their way into your garden in a variety of ways. They often hatch from eggs laid by butterflies or moths on the leaves of host plants.

When the eggs hatch, the young caterpillars start to feed on the plant material. They can also be brought into your garden on contaminated soil, compost, or infested plants.

Which Caterpillars Can be Found Where I Live? Caterpillar species vary widely depending on your location.

Some prefer certain plants while others can eat a wide variety of plants. Caterpillars also have different tastes and preferences based on their species, which can impact which plants they target.

It’s essential to identify the type of caterpillar in your garden to determine the best management and control strategy.

Picking Caterpillars Off Your Garden Plants

Hand picking is an excellent way to control caterpillar populations in small gardens. All you need is a pair of gloves and a stick to help you reach difficult spots.

Simply look for the caterpillars and remove them by hand. Put them in a jar or bucket of soapy water to avoid releasing them back into your garden.

This method works well for gardens with a small number of caterpillars.

Using Neem Oil to Get Rid of Caterpillars

Neem oil is a natural insecticide derived from the seeds of the neem tree. It’s a safe and effective way to control a wide range of pests, including caterpillars.

To use neem oil, mix it with water and a few drops of dish soap to help the solution cling to the plant. Spray the mixture on the affected areas of your plants.

Neem oil not only kills caterpillars, but it also repels other insects, including aphids, mites, and whiteflies.

Attract Natural Predators to Your Garden to Get Rid of Caterpillars

Natural predators, such as birds, squirrels, and wasps, can help control caterpillar populations in your garden. To attract these predators, you can add bird feeders or squirrel feeders to your garden.

You can also plant flowers that attract wasps, such as calendula, yarrow, or sweet alyssum. These flowers provide a food source and habitat for these beneficial insects.

You can also provide a habitat for birds by adding nesting boxes or birdhouses to your garden. Add Molasses to Your Plants!

Molasses is a cheap and effective way to deter caterpillars.

It works by making the leaves sticky and less appealing to the caterpillars. To use molasses, mix one tablespoon of molasses in a gallon of water and spray the solution on your plants.

Be sure to spray the bottom and top of the leaves for maximum effectiveness.

Use a Non-Toxic Insecticide

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacteria that can effectively control caterpillar populations. It works by targeting the digestive system of the caterpillars, causing them to stop feeding and die.

Bt is safe for humans and other beneficial insects and does not harm the environment. To use Bt, mix it with water and spray it on your plants.

This method of control works best when caterpillars are still small, so be sure to monitor your plants regularly to catch them early.


Caterpillars can wreak havoc on your garden if left unchecked. However, there are several ways to control and manage their populations without resorting to harmful chemicals.

From hand picking to neem oil to natural predators, choosing the right management strategy depends on the type of caterpillar and the size of your garden. Keep an eye on your plants and be proactive in controlling caterpillar populations to ensure a healthy and thriving garden.

Easy Ways to Prevent Caterpillars from Coming Back

Having caterpillars in your garden can be a real headache, especially if they keep coming back. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to prevent caterpillars from taking over your garden.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best prevention strategies, including soapy solutions, aromatic plants, tree and plant removal, and scents that caterpillars hate.

Spray a Dish Soap and Water Solution onto Your Plants

One easy way to prevent caterpillars from coming back is by spraying a dish soap and water solution onto your plants. The soapy solution acts as a natural insecticide and helps to deter pests from feeding on your plants.

To use, mix two teaspoons of soap per gallon of water and spray on the affected plants. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves, where caterpillars like to hide.

Be careful not to use too much soap, as this can harm your plants.

Add Plants That Caterpillars Hate in Your Garden

Caterpillars have specific tastes and preferences when it comes to plants. By adding plants that caterpillars hate to your garden, you can deter them from coming back.

Aromatic plants, such as lavender, sage, mint, and mugwort, are known to repel caterpillars. These plants contain oils that give off strong scents that are unappealing to caterpillars.

You can also try planting marigolds, which produce a chemical that can deter pests. These plants not only deter caterpillars but can also add color and beauty to your garden.

Remove or Avoid Any Trees or Plants That Caterpillars Are Attracted to

Caterpillars often have specific host plants that they are attracted to. By removing or avoiding these trees or plants, you can reduce the likelihood of caterpillars coming back to your garden.

Some trees and plants that caterpillars are attracted to include willows, oaks, cherry trees, parsley, milkweed, clover, cabbage, holly, blueberries, violets, cherries, thistles, plantains, asters, and pansies. If you have any of these plants in your garden, monitor them closely and look for signs of caterpillar infestation.

Use Scents That Caterpillars Hate to Keep Them Away from Your Garden

Like many insects, caterpillars have strong reactions to certain scents. By using scents that caterpillars hate, you can keep them away from your garden.

Peppermint, lavender, rosemary, hot pepper, garlic, and cedarwood are all scents that caterpillars find unappealing. You can use these scents in a variety of ways, including planting these herbs in your garden or making a spray with essential oils.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes around your garden, which can also deter caterpillars.


Caterpillars can quickly take over your garden and damage your plants. However, there are several easy ways to prevent caterpillars from coming back.

By using natural deterrents such as soapy solutions, aromatic plants, and scents that caterpillars hate, you can keep your garden healthy and thriving. Be sure to monitor your garden regularly and remove any infested plants promptly to prevent caterpillar populations from growing.

With a little effort and vigilance, you can keep caterpillars at bay and enjoy a beautiful garden all season long. In conclusion, taking the necessary steps to identify, manage, and control caterpillars in your garden can mean the difference between a magnificent garden and a destroyed one.

It’s important to remember that there are natural and effective ways to remove caterpillars from your garden, including using natural insecticides, attracting natural predators to your garden, and planting deterrent plants. Taking these measures can help keep your garden healthy and thriving, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and abundance of your plants without the nuisance of caterpillar infestations.

With these tips in mind, you can take action to prevent caterpillars from coming back and enjoy a successful gardening season.

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