How to Get Rid of Moth Larvae in Vegetable Gardens

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Moth larvae in a vegetable garden can really spell trouble if you're not careful. Get rid of moth larvae in a vegetable garden with help from a longtime gardener and blogger in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Berry Gardening, Fertilizers & Vegetables
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Amy from, and I'm going to talk just a little bit about how to get rid of moth larvae in vegetable gardens. Anybody who has had a tomato plant devoured by a tomato horn worm or their corn demolished by a ravenous pack of army worms can understand that we would all want to get rid of these moth larvae because they can be very devastating in a garden. In this particular garden right here in my broccoli, there is damage from moth larvae here where you can see where they've been eating holes in the leaves and scouring the edges and those are actually two different kinds of larvae, one is a moth larvae, the cabbage looper and one is a butterfly larvae, and that's the cabbage worm, European cabbage worm. And so there are a couple of things you can do to kind of control the moth larvae and the damage that they do in your garden. They are all caterpillars and so they are laid, you know eggs laid by butterflies and moths on your plants and so one option is to cover up the plants with something like they sell a spun polyester row covers that you can cover things with or you can use if you are you know, don't have access to that. You can go to the craft or fabric store and get some tulle that fine mesh that is used in all kinds of wedding things to cover up your plants to keep the butterflies and moths from laying eggs on your plants and that's an option. For the tomato horn worms, one of your options is waiting because there is a parasitic wasp that will lay eggs on that tomato horn worm and it will look like little grains of rice on its back and if you see a tomato horn worm with those little grains of rice standing up on its back, you should leave that one because those eggs are going to hatch into the caterpillar and devour it from the inside and it will make more parasitic wasps because that's who laid them was a parasitic wasp and they will attack all the other tomato horn worms. But if your tomato horn worms are really doing a number on your plants and you can't wait and you don't see any of those eggs, then you might want to do something and the other something else is spraying with something called BT or a product containing BT. I have a little package, the brand I have happens to be one called Thuraside but there are lots of brands and BT is a bacterial product. The BT stands for bacillus thuringiensis and you know, that's a mouthful so we just use the letters, the initials, BT and usually the instructions are to mix it in a sprayer with water and then you just spray your plants a couple times a week when you see the larvae. I did that and one of the hazards of the BT is they actually have to eat this stuff so that in order to kill them, you actually have to let them eat some of your plants and so that's kind of a, you know, appearance, it's really important that you might want to think of about plan but BT is approved for use in organic gardens. It washes right off so if you sprayed it and then you came out and harvested your broccoli, you could wash your broccoli off and it would be perfectly safe to eat. There's no residue left. It's not a chemical that's going to glum on so that you don't have to worry about that in your garden. And another good thing about BT is a lot of the things you're going to spray it on, you know, aren't going to have other insects on them anyway, not very many, but in theory anyway, the studies have looked at, it's not harming any other insects. It really just attacks that larval stage of moths and butterflies. So it's specific to that group, the Lepidoptera and so those are the insects that it kills. And so as long as those are all you're after, the other insects should be fine. Either way, it will help get rid of the moth larvae and their damage that they do in your garden.


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