Where possible tolerate populations of caterpillars, as butterflies and moths are an important part of the garden ecosystem.
- Encourage predators and other natural enemies in the garden such as birds, hedgehogs and ground beetles
- Check plants regularly from for the presence of larvae and remove by hand where practical, feeding happens at night so torch-light inspections of damaged plants on mild nights should reveal caterpillars.
- Angle shades caterpillars also eat common nettle, broad-leaved dock, bramble and many other wild plants, so they can be relocated to continue their life cycle.
If populations are too high for hand picking, control may be achieved by spraying with pesticides. Spraying at dusk is likely to give the best results. Shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence and/or systemic action.
- Organic contact insecticides containing natural pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer). Several applications of these short persistence products may be necessary to give good control
- More persistent contact insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
- The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
Follow label instructions when using pesticides. On edible plants make sure the food plant is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number applications, spray interval and harvest interval.
Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to pollinating insects.
Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Pesticides for gardeners (link downloads pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)