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Caterpillars on orchids . EEEK CRUNCHERS!! Re printed from 18 months ago

Oh No Caterpillars.  They make such a mess so quickly!  
A customer sent a batch of photos of a mysterious bunch of holes in her Colmanara blooms
Then the very next day a perfect Sarcochilus sold in the "Once Off Specials" turned up with this monster after eating all the blooms
So now seems an appropriate time to re publish this.
Whether they be moths or butterflies it really doesn’t matter, I just lumber them into "crunchers" with Grasshoppers, katydids and crickets, as well as earwigs and even stick insects. Oh yes,thats Dendrobium beetles also.
All these true insects just crunch and munch their way through our beloved orchids.  
They most seem to enjoy soft new growth and flower buds. 
The easiest way to control then is to stop them coming inside in the first place. 
A simple weighted shade cloth door at the front of the orchid house is a good start. 
Shade cloth over the vents, its simple just keep out the adults. No poisons involved. 
One Cabbage white butterfly can lay over 50 eggs in an hour so once inside that 50 big fat green caterpillars eating away after a few weeks.  


The old favourite carbaryl is still the most effective control and acts as a stomach poison that kills the caterpillar or other cruncher on ingestion. 

It is spraying over the foliage and care must be taken not to wash it off too quickly as it is very water soluble. Let them have good feed first. 

Carbaryl also has a pleasant clean smell. 

The white powder is dissolved in liquids these days to make it safer and easier to measure out.

We sell carbaryl liquid for $20 per bottle We have found other chemical controls not so effective. 

And it’s hard to know if the Confidor pills work as they are only applied to very large orchids not usually bothered by crunchers!  



So how do you know what been eating your precious blooms and leaves.

It all in the signs "Watson". Slugs and snail leave silvery trails,rats and mice leave large wheat grain sized droppings and caterpillars leave smaller dropping where they eat.

I recently found coffee granule sized droppings on the sarcochilus photographed below and knew there had to be a cruncher close by and finding him was easy after following to Poop trail!


It would be lovely if milder pesticides did the job.  

Frogs do a great job,always encourage them!                              

Dipel, which is often referred to for caterpillar control is useless on all plants except brassicas (cabbage, caulie etc.) as it requires an exact Ph. in the gut of the caterpillar to work. This is only achieved by eating these and only these type of plants.  

It is a fungal spore that eats the cruncher inside out. So Dipel is, fungal spores mixed with a spreading powder, but no good for orchids. 



 One of my special tips, although not very pleasant ,is to keep an old badmitton bat with a long handle handy and go playing badmitton with the cabbage white butterflies.

Sounds afewfull I know, but it sure as hell is satisfying! 


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  • Roger on

    The $2 shops have a ‘tennis raquet’ with metal stings and a battery in the handle.. portable electric fence for flying insects

  • Candice on

    Can the Carbaryl spray be sprayed on the flower spikes?

    I’ve had to bring a number of my orchids inside as something is eating the flower spikes. I have shade cloth over the greenhouse so not sure what it could be.

  • Wayne Turville on

    no good im afraid. Didnt work for us.Maybe if you sprayed it directly on to the caterpillers.

  • Charlie Moraza on

    What about Confidor spray instead of the pills? The label says it’s systemic, but will it work? – Regards.

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