Unfortunately, some species of owlet moth give rise to caterpillars that can be highly destructive. Collectively known as Cutworms, these larvae can severely damage plants, particularly in agriculture.
By regularly monitoring the high-risk plants in your garden (see below) you might be able to catch these pests before damage is made irreversible. If damage has already been done, not to worry, we've put together some tips and tricks that will help prevent another infestation in the following years.
Always try to scarify and plough the soil before doing any planting. This will hopefully reveal any pupae or larvae hiding in the topsoil.
Weeds and plant debris should be cleared two weeks to ten days before planting.
Plant checks should be undertaken during the nighttime using a torch, or at dawn, this is when caterpillars will be most active.
A range of insects and animals eat cutworms. Sometimes it's worth waiting for other insects to take care of your pests if the infestation is considered average.
Parasitic wasps and flies use these caterpillars to feed their larvae. Likewise, ground beetles, lacewings, praying mantis, ants, and birds will all eat these insects.
Before you sow your seeds, let your chickens loose on your veg patch. They will clear the area of grubs, caterpillars or any overwintering pupae.
If available, you can purchase beneficial predatory nematodes from some commercial retailers. Watering these into the soil should eliminate the caterpillars hiding beneath the topsoil. Soil temperatures need to be between 12-20ºC for the treatment to be effective.
Diluted neem seed and leaf sprayed onto potato in regular intervals is proposed an effective treatment.
Baits are most effective when other resources are limited. These can be purchased online or from garden retailers.
If available, pheromone traps are a brilliant way to catch male moths in search of females. Not only do you reduce the reproductive success of the males in the area, but you can also use traps to monitor the infestation level of your garden.
Installing protective collars, made from plastic cups, bottles, or paper tubes, etc., can help protect the stems of young plants.
Sticky substances are another barrier that can be effective at preventing caterpillars from reaching stems. Diatomite earth, sawdust, or crushed eggshells are substances disliked by caterpillars.