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Caterpillars

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So what are you supposed to do about them? I'm torn between saving my plants and protecting wildlife... If you have plants to attract butterflies, doesn't it follow that you will have caterpillars?!

  • Views: 764
  • Replies: 5
  • Posted: Fri. 1st August 2014 09:41

Re: Caterpillars

Reply from Carol

Depends whether the attractive plants are food for the adult butterfly (providing nectar) or food for the developing caterpillar (usually leaves)! I don't know of caterpillars that eat ivy or buddleia or lavendar - but the butterflies go for the nectar in the flowers. I don't know what feeds adult cabbage white butterflies, but I know the caterpillars love all brassicas and nasturtiums.

  • Posted: Fri. 1st August 2014 11:15

Re: Re: Caterpillars

Reply from Jayne

Thanks for this.
I suppose I'm just thinking if I destroy the caterpillars then there will be no butterflies!?
They certainly do love my nasturtiums, sadly.

  • Posted: Fri. 1st August 2014 12:36

Re: Caterpillars

Reply from Louise Lomax

The main problem is with the small white butterfly - others (eg small tortoiseshell) live on plants like nettles. Small whites like brassicas and nasturtiums. I plant nasturtiums in the veg plot so that the small whites lay their eggs on them rather than my cabbages. I net all my brassicas - not just against butterflies, but also pidgeons usually demolish them in the winter. Would rather have the pleasure of butterflies in the garden than plants without holes and no butterflies.

  • Posted: Fri. 1st August 2014 11:37

Re: Re: Caterpillars

Reply from Jayne

Thanks for this.

  • Posted: Fri. 1st August 2014 12:37

Re: Caterpillars

Reply from Deirdre

This always tears me in two. I really love wildlife and that's why I started my garden but now and again the 'prim and proper gardener' in me wants to have perfect plants with no holes! but I think balance is key, birds will make sure of this beside I think a little damage is okay.

Most butterflies feed on nectar from many flowers but their caterpillars will only feed on very specific food plants and won't eat anything else. And they have declined sharply in the past few years. What I've done is I've researched caterpillar 'food plants' such as nettles and ivy and created an area away from the main flower garden in a sunny corner where they can munch to their hearts content without destroying the effect of the rest of the garden.

Very good point made above 'no caterpillars no butterflies". Maybe relocating them could work :-)

  • Posted: Sat. 2nd August 2014 19:17