London (change)
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01/06/2014 at 18:56

 Does anyone know what these little hugs are that are munching happily on my plant (can't remember if it's broccoli or sprouts but think it is (was) broccoli!  What do I have to do to protect them??? 

01/06/2014 at 19:01

Looks like Cabbage White Butterfly caterpillars, if you remove the caterpillars and get some finer mesh they will be fine, its time consuming but if you dont have too many then keeping a close watch and removing them as the eggs appear will be fine.

I use scaffold safety netting, its a lot finer mesh and keeps the butterflies out

01/06/2014 at 19:01

as it's under netting, I'd guess slugs/ snails.

01/06/2014 at 19:04

If you blow up the pic Hostafan you can see the caterpillars

01/06/2014 at 19:05

Hostafan - click on the photo and zoom in - on the middle leaf on the opposite side of the pic to the cane there's about 50 cabbage white caterpillars !!!

01/06/2014 at 19:05

Can I spray them with bug killer?  I really don't do very well at things like this  They weren't there yesterday when I checked them.

I looked at scaffolders net online Scroggin, but it's quite expensive and I've already spent quite a lot this year.  I do need to sort the netting though as the plants are getting to big and the netting is holding them down. It's a nightmare weeding too, as you can see!

I've done well, they've been in over a week without getting eaten, better than the last 2 times and it's only one plant 

01/06/2014 at 19:06

Sorry Hostafan, I should have bugs not hugs and pointed out that it did get munched slightly by slugs, before they were planted in the veg patch and covered.

01/06/2014 at 19:09

Bug killer will work, but so will removing the critters by hand. You can see the eggs they are the little green dots next to the caterpillars. Whichever you feel happiest doing OL.

01/06/2014 at 19:12

I wouldn't spray stuff I'm going to eat!

 Put some rubber gloves on and brush them off into a bucket - feed them to chickens or put them in the compost heap if you don't want to squidge them. 

01/06/2014 at 19:51

I've been very brave and taken them off with my gardening gloves on, now in a tub of weeds where they can munch all they want, if they are thrill alive 

I agree Dove and that's what I decided, but before I read your posts so I may not have got all the eggs, I just 'wiped' the leaves between my finger and thumb so should have got the eggs too.......little blighters 

01/06/2014 at 20:18

Have a check on those leaves, both sides, every day - if caterpillars eat the growing tip out of your brassicas you'll lose them.

01/06/2014 at 20:20

Thanks Dove, I will do.  I checked the leaves tonight, both sides, just to make sure none were hiding but I may have missed them.

01/06/2014 at 20:29

OL, do you know anyone who might have old net curtains. It makes a great insect mesh and will definitely keep out the Cabbage Whites

01/06/2014 at 20:34

lol, I've just done as many suggested and enlarged the photo. Erm, I think it's caterpillars now. tee hee.

01/06/2014 at 20:35

01/06/2014 at 21:05

If you don't remove all the eggs and caterpillars and net with a fine net it will be a waste of time. It's very early still in the season for cabbage whites and you can be sure many more will be all over your brassica patch during the next few months and they will decimate your plants. At least a good netting system will stand you in good stead for many years to come. I bought my nets from Knowle Nets in Dorset this year and they are paying dividends already as I have the healthiest pest free plants this year that I have ever had. Every year I have said 'I must get some netting' but never got around to doing it but after last years dis-spiriting waste of time, ground and effort I bit the bullet (so to speak) and bought the netting recommended by a friend, and boy am I glad now that I did. I have 4 raised beds and have decided I will invest in a new net cage each year now until I have protected all four beds (They're all slightly different sizes and I don't want to have to move them about every year). The guy at Knowle Nets was very knowledgable and helpful and sent exactly what I needed - he will know exactly what size netting you need if you tell him what you want to protect (or of course you can buy some netting at a GC and make or get someone to make up a frame). At least the Knowle Net frames are aluminium and will last for years.

01/06/2014 at 21:12
scroggin wrote (see)

Bug killer will work, but so will removing the critters by hand. You can see the eggs they are the little green dots next to the caterpillars. Whichever you feel happiest doing OL.


Sorry, scroggin.......those 'little green dots' are caterpillar faeces. The eggs are usually laid under the leaves in clusters and are yellow. 

01/06/2014 at 21:38

They look good John and thanks for the recommendation, for this year I think I am going to try and make something, as Scroggin suggested I might try and get some net curtain from somewhere.

Maybe next year I can start investing but I've already had a new greenhouse, 2 new borders and all the plants, pots, compost etc etc.  Next year's expense should be less as I have lots of pots now (and am saving yoghurt pots!!), I am making a concerted effort in making compost and won't need as many seeds so should have some spare funds 

Thanks everyone, I will keep a check on the plants and see how I get on.

01/06/2014 at 21:59

A good way of making the frame for the netting is to use polypropylene water pipe cut to length.  I bought a 25m coil of 20mm (I think) pipe from a builders' merchant for £18  and it does three 3m x 1.4m raised beds and lasts for ever.  Sink the ends in the soil or get a bit of extra length by shoving a bit of cane or wood up it and sink the other end of that in the soil. (You may have to get busy with a corkscrew or brace and bit when it rots and breaks after a couple of years).

I'll try and remember to take and post a photo when I get back.

01/06/2014 at 22:20

That sounds like a good idea Steve and quite cheap as I won't need as much as you, I don't think?  I need the butterflies to get on my courgettes etc to pollinate them so can't cover them the fruit bed and root veg bed seem ok.  So, it's just the one bed for now.  Thanks 

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