Have you spotted some hairy beasts around your yard? They are wooly brown caterpillars, also known as the aptly named wooly bears, and they love your garden!

These wooly bears morph into tiger moths and along the way don’t mind what they eat – herbs, grass, weeds, nettles and dandelions, plus plenty in your veggie patch.

Caterpillars aren’t the only insects making a meal of your plants. Grubs are on the march too and irregular holes appearing on leaves are a sure sign something is on the nibble.

So what can you do? Well picking them off is a sure and easy way to rid yourself of these pests. That’s fine if there’s only a few AND you can actually find them. An alternative is to spray. Unfortunately anything we spray with toxic sprays retains toxins in the plant, not great for things you want to eat! Thankfully there are low toxic options that also get the job done.

Dipel has been used by gardeners for the past 30 years and still remains a firm favourite as it contains a natural bacteria that only affects caterpillars in the butterfly and moth family. Another great thing about Dipel is it has no withholding period, meaning veggies, fruit and salad ingredients can be washed and eaten immediately after spraying!

A newer, and equally effective product is Success Ultra. This low toxic formulation contains spinetoram, an insect control derived from beneficial soil bacteria, that moves into the leaf and controls chewing insect pests that feed day or night.

Along with controlling caterpillars and grubs, Success Ultra is registered for thrips, citrus leaf miner, pear and cherry slug, tomato leaf miner and leaf rollers – so it’s a great one to keep in the shed.

Whether you pick off the pests or take the low toxic approach it’s important that you get to eat the herbs and veggies you plant, not the pests on them!


About The Author

In the Garden is an exciting new local South Australian TV program on Channel 9 this Summer & next Autumn showcasing the best ‘green’ stories this state has to tell. Check out the latest in garden trends, new plants and top tips to keep those gardens blooming.