Organic caterpillar control used to seem like a thing of fiction to me.
Last year I couldn’t grow green beans to save my life! A nasty little creature called, the bean leaf roller caterpillar, totally decimated my green beans! I tried every natural method I could think of, but nothing was working.
I resorted to checking my plants for eggs multiple times per day, and chasing away the butterflies and moths from my garden. But they were way too invasive for me to keep up with.
But this year has been TOTALLY different. My green beans and cabbages are healthy and vibrant and lush.
What’s the difference? I’ve discovered a secret weapon against caterpillars, and I’m gonna share it with you.
You heard me right. Wasps.
Now hang on, don’t dismiss this, it’s not what you’re thinking. I promise. Trichogramma wasps are minuscule, non aggressive, wasps. Five adults can fit on the tip of a pencil! They are harmless.
To humans that is. They are predators to caterpillars and worms. They lay their eggs inside the eggs laid by butterflies and moths. So the caterpillar population in your garden will reduce dramatically!
Trust me, I’ve seen it this year! It’s amazing!
How to release Trichogramma Wasps in your Garden:
- First order your wasp eggs as soon as your sprouts appear.
- When they arrive, keep them on a counter top where you can keep a close eye on them. When they start hatching, it’s time to release them. (waiting until they’ve started hatching helps reduce the risk of ants carrying off all the wasp eggs before they hatch!)
- To release them, wait until late afternoon or early evening, and carefully open the package, cut the cardboard tags along the perforated lines, and then hang the tags on or near the plants you’d like to protect against caterpillars.
And that’s it! They should all hatch quickly after you put them out, and then get to work on those caterpillar eggs.
Keeping Trichogramma Wasps in your Garden:
Whenever you release a beneficial insect into your garden, you really want to take some effort to encourage them to stay! Because they are parasitic wasps, and they aren’t actually eating the caterpillars, they need a food source in your garden to stay around. So, consider planting some of these herbs and flowers to help attract parasitic wasps to your garden and encourage the ones you’ve released to stay.
These wasps have about a 7-14 day life span, but they can grow by 30 generations in one year. So, hopefully they will stick around and you’ll eventually have a nice healthy population of caterpillar assassins living in your garden!
Have you used beneficial bugs like Trichogramma wasps for organic caterpillar control (or for other garden pests?). I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
This year I’m dedicating myself to working WITH nature and learning as much as I can about beneficial insects for the garden. What about you?
If you want to learn more too, check out this book, Attracting Beneficial Bugs, for some more great info on how to create an amazing garden with beneficial bugs. And I highly recommend Nature’s Good Guys as a source for your gardening insect needs, I’ve used them several times and always had a great experience!