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Caterpillar invasion

Hello everyone! Daft question alert!

Please could you help? I have been growing brassicas for the first time with some success but now I have given up as my plot is covered in caterpillars and slowly destroying the lot. 

I have sown some replacement kale plants and wondered when would be the best time to plant them out. When are caterpillars less of a threat? Will they always be in my soil? Or do any remaining ones die off in the autumn? 

Thank you x


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,279
    Caterpillers turn into a chrysalis to hibernate the winter and then turn into moths or butterflies next spring.  There are still loads of butterflies and moths about to lay eggs. You will need to net them.
  • We have grown sprouts this year for the first time in decades and didn't net!!! Covered in whites caterpillars and the leaves stripped. Big learning curve for us.
  • WhiterotWhiterot Posts: 39
    Unfortunately you have learnt the hard way. You need to cover almost everything and I quote alliums to protect against leak moth and allium leaf miner carrots against carrot fly and brassicas against pigeons and cabbage whites and moths and now peas against sparrows and pigeons nipping the node buds. Add to this rabbits, deer and badgers if you are really unlucky Its a battle which we are constantly changing our defences to combat these pests to get a decent crop but we battle on. We may win a battle but not the war.
  • Some of mine look like Swiss chees plants. All you can pick is find and squish them, and throw nets over.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,151
    edited August 2022
    Good You need nets made from a fine mesh … and this needs to be fixed to a frame that will hold it taut and well above the leaves … otherwise the butterflies will sit on the netting, poke their ovipositor through the mesh and lay their eggs on any leaves they can reach. 

    We are painters and we had some old ‘worn out’ canvas stretchers that we didn’t need so my OH made a walk in cage for our Purple sprouting broccoli the other year … very successful. 

    There are all sorts of ideas on You Tube. Just make sure there are no gaps a butterfly could squeeze through … they’re remarkably sneaky. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • GlenjjonesGlenjjones Posts: 141
    Do winter brassicas suffer from cabbage whites as much?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,151
    The thing about the brassicas that you harvest in the winter is that you have to start them off in the late spring/summer ... when the butterflies are about ... that's what my purple sprouting broccoli are ... seeds sown late spring, planted out late summer, grow on through autumn and winter and harvest in the late spring 'Hungry Gap'.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • GlenjjonesGlenjjones Posts: 141
    I suppose what I meant is does the risk to the plants reduce significantly trough late autumn and winter, if they survive until then? I guess the butterflies are not around to lay the eggs later in the year.
  • WhiterotWhiterot Posts: 39
    No the butterflies have gone by the winter but the pigeons are still there and they will strip the brussels of their tops and all their leaves plus make a mess of anything with green on it like cabbage and broccoli.
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