Monday, June 8, 2009

Armies of Caterpillars

The last two weeks have been rather time intensive in the plot. I arrived home from a business trip to discover the skeletal remains of my Broccoli, and Kale crying out for liberation. It was a sorry sight. Following the trail of moist poo-balls, sure enough, I found an invading army of camouflaged green caterpillars. I don't know how I escaped last year. But this year the white butterflies found me.

Up until now I'd been rather clueless on how to organically defend my kingdom from the terrors of caterpillars - so I went about picking them off by hand for most of the last two weeks. This wasn't so bad, because caterpillars are nutritious for the chooks (after the spoilt girls initially circled said caterpillars like a child avoiding a plate of veggies. Just look at her. And all the while the caterpillars are getting away!). The first day I must have taken 50-60 off the plants, with a regular 10-20 every day after. This accounts for a huge investment of time each day (ya know, like, a full 10 minutes).

By co-incidence (or rather, not by co-incidence - everyone is having this problem at this time of year), the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and the Gods at Gardening Australia bestowed upon me a holy solution. Its called Dipel. A naturally occurring bacteria you spray onto the leaves, and that doesn't act too kindly in the stomachs of munching little caterpillars. Better yet, it doesn't kill all the good insects I want in the garden.

But lo and behold, on arrival at the gardening store I was confronted with not one but two choices of "naturally-occurring-bacteria-based" insecticides. The second is the Spinosad-based product, which has many of the same claims. But what immediately turns me off is that the Spinosad-based product has a withholding period. Having found this kind first, I stood confused and lost, struggling with the possible realisation that this was it... this was all the world had to offer me in the war on caterpillars. However, I soon found the Dipel (with no withholding period), and there was much rejoicing.

So I guess now the caterpillar apocalypse has come and passed, its back to the boring old 10-minute-a-day routine.

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