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Swift moth caterpillars are dirty-white with brown heads. They live in soil and feeding on plant roots and at the base of plant stems which can cause plants to collapse.
Garden swift moth (Hepialus lupulinus) on Crocus
Heavy infestations of swift moth caterpillars can cause affected plants to lack vigour and they may be killed. Roots of herbaceous perennials such as Michaelmas daisy, paeony, chrysanthemum and strawberry are particularly at risk.
A mixture of nematode species for controlling caterpillars and some other vegetable pests is sold as Fruit and Vegetable Protection and is available from some biological control suppliers. To be effective the nematodes need to be watered into moist soil while soil temperatures are in the range of 12-20ºC (54-68ºF) as soon as possible after purchase/delivery. These temperatures occur between April and September. Nematodes should be applied as soon as possible after purchase, following the suppliers’ instructions. It may be necessary to water the soil before and after application to ensure the soil is sufficiently moist for nematode activity and survival. Repeat application may be necessary.
Biological control suppliers (Adobe Acrobat pdf document)
There are currently no pesticides available to home gardeners or the treatment of soil pests.
Angle shades moth Biological control Box tree caterpillar Brown tail moth Buff-tip moth Carrot fly Chafer grubs in garden borders Chafer grubs in lawns Cotoneaster webber caterpillars Cutworms Elephant hawk moth Lacky moth Moths: encouraging into your garden Oak processionary moth Protect your gardenSlugsVine weevil
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