Fuzzy Caterpillars and Gardening

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Fuzzy Caterpillars and Gardening

If you have walked anywhere in Montgomery County this spring, you have seen hundreds if not thousands of fuzzy caterpillars. Many are black and some are beige, orange, or yellow. According to Texas Monthly, all of them will one day become moths. But if you have a spring garden, these caterpillars are most likely enjoying too much of your vegetables and plants. Today we are discussing these fuzzy caterpillars and gardening.

What are They and Why So Many?

“Rather than a single species, these caterpillars are a large group belonging to the subfamily Arctiinae, which includes more than six thousand species,” writes Charlie Scudder with the Texas Monthly. Most people call them wooly bear caterpillars or salt marsh caterpillars. Regardless of what you call them, these caterpillars are not new to the area. Due to the very mild winter we experienced, their numbers have skyrocketed to the point where it seems like an invasion.

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Just like the Eric Carle children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, caterpillars naturally gorge themselves on vegetation until they are ready to build themselves a cocoon. This poses a problem for gardeners. Tell-tale signs of a caterpillar problem are holes on the leaves of your vegetable plants.

What to Do?

Scott from New Garden Road has a video on controlling caterpillars in your garden. He shows you signs of a caterpillar infestation on leaves of broccoli and kale. Scott also gives you 100% organic options and chemical options.

To conclude, the caterpillars are a natural part of Texas’ ecosystem with an increased population this year because of the mild winter we experienced. However, they can be a nuisance to local gardeners. Leaves with minor damage are still edible; the damage is more a cosmetic issue and does not make the vegetable useless. The best news is that at some time soon, the caterpillars will be flying around having transitioned into moths.