Thursday, 5 September 2013

What to do with cabbage white caterpillars

The sign says it all.

New Public Enemy Number One.
I love insects. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colours. They're like miniature alien creations. But they're not all welcome in my garden.
It's been a great year for butterflies and this pleases me greatly. Who could not marvel at the sight of butterflies fluttering by?


A group of five cabbage whites cavorting over (and under)
the netting which is supposed to protect my greens. 
In the year when I have put more effort than ever into growing my greens, nature has put more effort than ever into eating my greens! Those scraggy butterflies have found impossible ways of getting themselves on the wrong side of my netting. In fact, when I show people round I joke that the netting is there to protect the butterflies and their offspring from predators.
And therein lies my dilemma. I have to net my brassicas or else every leaf would be reduced to a skeleton by caterpillars and pigeons, but in so doing I deny access to the ducks who would be more than happy to help with caterpillar clearance.

So instead I have a new fixation - hunting out the caterpillars.
They're not always as easy to find as these two were.

 And I have a new entrepreneurial idea. Caterpillar racing!
However, before I find this too depressing, let's remember that I should still get an ample crop for the two of us.
OK, they may need a soak in salty water to coax out any extra creepy-crawly protein, but for the first time I am producing our own calabrese, kale and cabbages.
Hopefully cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli will come, and maybe even some sprouts for Christmas.

Let's remember, too, that not every insect is bad. Which is why I don't just aim to kill everything that comes near my crops.

One of the friendly bugs.

As for those cabbage white caterpillars. Well they're currently being put to good use too.

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