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"Natural Control of Garden Pests" by Jackie French

Ripper of a book this one. Jackie is the potion master - and she explains what the mode of action is, how to make the potions, and how to work out what to try, as well as giving explicit recipes for specific pest problems.


It's only a little book - mine was $15, although that was years ago. I bet it's still in print though (or something similar by Jackie will be).


Jess was asking about caterpillars on cabbage family. Here is what Jackie has to say.


Under caterpillars in the index she lists cabbage moth, cabbage white butterfly, codling moths (apples), Dipel, kurrajong leaf roller, predators of (caterpillars), and trap.


She talks about encouraging predatory wasps, assasin bugs, mantids, centipedes, dragonflies, ichneumons, scorpion flies and spiders (a good reason not to spray biocides if you can get away with it? SJP). Elsewhere she talks about what to plant and what habitat to provide to do this. She also says that lacewings eat caterpillar eggs and hoverflies may eat very tiny baby caterpillars. There is also, apparently a natural caterpillar virus.


Jackie says that in a diverse garden the natural predators may be enough to control the caterpillars (but give them a couple of weeks to notice the new food source). Recommendations to preserve this natural predation include to squish the caterpillars and eggs on the leaves, or use Dipel. Other controls recommended include:


* eggshells in beds (to make the butterflies seek less crowded accommodation SJP)

* companion plant with smelly things - eg lavendar round edges of beds ( and especially dill  SJP)

* Interplant to stop caterpillars migrating between plants (and to disguise the round outline of brassicaceous leaves by which it's thought that the moths/ butterflys may partially recognise their host plants SJP)


She says make sure you spray or dust under leaves as well, cos that's where the caterpillars and eggs mostly are.  Potions etc recommended are:


* flour (poisons caterpillar tummies within 3-4 days)

* Dipel

* clay spray

* bug juice (made of squished caterpillars - nasty! but effective?)

* white pepper spray (will dehydrate/ kill them and make them easy prey for birds)

* powdered rock phosphate (same effect)

* wormwood spray

* garlic

* quassia

* derris dust or spray



place a small, three sided box at the base of plants, sbout 10mm high. Place a scatter of lime or wood ash inside - the caterpillars should shelter in there during the day.




See? She's the wizard. I love Jackie French books. The best.


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NB I think that letting the plants dry out makes them smell more and they become a stronger target for the pests. So good watering helps. I find that providing habitat, not spraying anything at all in the garden (which can often upset the goodies as well as the baddies), ridiculous amounts of companion interplanting, squishing the eggs with my fingernail and picking off caterpillars every day or so to feed to the chooks keeps things well under control. At most I get some holey outer leaves - not to worry. The only time it can go bad is you need to make sure you have the caterpillars and moths sort of under control before the heads start to form on broccoli and cauliflower - if they get in there you can't squish them out. If you want perfect heads it might be worth spraying with Dipel in the week before they develop (or just give them a good soak in the sink after you pick them so the caterpillars all come to the surface before you cook them! but you can get sort of slimy bits where the caterpillars have been munching, so you need to cut the heads up as well...better to just keep on top of them! also consider having a hot smelly 'sacrifice plant' when the heads are developing and squish everything on that..although this hasn't worked too well for me yet - maybe my sacrifice plant and my precious babies need to be further apart...)


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