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Caterpillar attack


My polytunnel is infested with thousands, and I do mean thousands of caterpillars.

I have netted the doors and have only ever found one moth in the tunnel this year.

There are precious few butterflies in the garden.

I don't understand where they are all coming from. They have decimated the peas and killed the whole crop, the brasica as you would expect are taking a pounding and I have to check them over daily, each time removing dozens from each plant.

Just went out now to pick parsley & it's totaly covered from head to toe in the critters.

Can anyone suggest where them may be coming from & how I can stop them!





  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    I can remember one year planting Kale for the first time. And I have to say, I've never in all the years of gardening seen just how many caterpillars covered my garden that year - they were even coming into the shed. Everything was ruined and covered with the critters, so I blamed Curly Kale and of course, the Cabbage white.

    Anyone planted kale near you ?

  • BriggsyBriggsy Posts: 71

    No other veg growers within 1/4 mile, I'm not finding eggs on underside of leaves either! I'm beginning to think that they are hatching out elsewhere & crawling in, however most are tiny so it would be one hell of a walk, and over cockle shell paths!

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    Any chance of a photo?  While many of them do look the same, it might help to identify what they are.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Lupin 1Lupin 1 Posts: 8,916

    I wonder if caterpillar eggs have / can survive over the winter ( go dormant ? ) if in conditions like a p tunnel. Other wise you've had one active butterfly. Soz for position you find yourself in.image

  • BriggsyBriggsy Posts: 71


     Here's one of the little blighters.

  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    Could be a small Angle Shades


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    Looks like a caterpillar of the Small White (those of the the Large White has much more distinctive markings.)  The Small White lays single eggs so could have dotted them all over the place and so they are difficult to spot.  A favourite place is on the 2 small 'lobes' at the base of each cabbage leaf.  Other than picking them off, I'm not sure what can be done at this stage, but you do have my sympathies as I had a similar problem a few year ago when I netted my outdoor brassicas but slightly too late - all the net then did was make picking them all off extremely difficult!


    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • BriggsyBriggsy Posts: 71

    Thanks, I will have to add caterpillar patrol to the existing slug patrol. I think I will need to give up the day job!

    There is a frog living under the parsley so I am attemped to knock the caterpillars off in the hope that he will tuck in to the food falling from the sky. I can live in hope!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,740

    One of the disadvantages of growing in a polytunnel is that the bluetits won't be going in there to eat your caterpillars - ours are eating every creepy crawly they can find in the garden. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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