Finding a good caterpillar repellent spray that is inexpensive and potent enough to get rid of these voracious leaf eaters is not far-fetched.
Caterpillars are the immature life stage of moths and butterflies. Typically, moth caterpillars are more of a problem for gardeners. How do they infest your plants?
It all starts when a moth lays eggs on them, whether it’s a single egg or a cluster of eggs.
A few days later, a caterpillar hatches, and as it eats, it continues to grow — becoming a major pest for a range of plants, especially vegetables like kale, collards, tomato, and cabbage.
If you detect them early, they’re much easier to control. But how do you know if you have a caterpillar insect problem?
Sure, you might see them hiding out behind leaves, but they might be hard to spot.
If you’re not sure, look for ragged holes left in plant foliage. This is a huge sign of a leaf eating worm problem.
So, what home remedy kills caterpillars? Fortunately, there are quite a few natural homemade caterpillar repellent sprays you can make to keep caterpillars off plants.
1. Insecticide Oil Spray
An oil insecticide spray can get rid of caterpillars and a range of insects, including mites, aphids, and more.
Mix 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap with 1 cup of vegetable oil of choice. Shake and spray directly on the plant.
When you’re ready to apply this homemade caterpillar killer solution to your garden, mix 2 teaspoons of the mix with 1 quart of water, shake, and spray on the affected area.
2. Diatomaceous Earth Spray
The substance has many uses, however, it makes a great natural pesticide as its abrasive qualities and incredible absorbing abilities allow it to dehydrate insects.
You can make a wet solution by combining 4 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth with 1 gallon of water. Shake until dissolved and spray onto the plant.
When dry, it will leave a powdery substance which is what will naturally kill caterpillars.
You can also sprinkle the powder directly on the ground around your plants and on the foliage.
3. Soap Spray
This is quite similar to the oil homemade caterpillar repellent spray mentioned above.
You can use this soap spray mix to control beetles, broccoli bugs, caterpillars, whiteflies, and more.
Mix 1 quart of water with 1.5 teaspoons of mild organic liquid soap, shake and spray directly on the affected area.
While soapy water does not kill caterpillars, it will certainly keep them at bay.
Aim to apply this caterpillar spray in the evenings or early morning rather than during any hot part of the day.
4. Garlic Spray
Is there anything more pungent than the smell of fresh garlic?
This scent makes an incredible homemade insecticide. That’s right… Garlic will get rid of all sorts of bad insects in your garden.
Puree 2 whole bulbs with a small amount of water, then let the mixture sit for at least 12 hours.
Once you’re ready to apply, add ½ cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of mild soap, and water before spraying.
Combine this natural caterpillar spray recipe with hot peppers to get rid of armyworms and cabbage worms.
5. Vinegar Spray
Vinegar is one of the best home remedies to get rid of caterpillars. Because of its acidic nature, it is used as a natural pesticide to kill many harmful insects.
To create a solution that will not harm your plants, combine 2 tablespoons of raw vinegar in 4 liters of water. Spray on affected plants.
6. Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is an oil pressed from the seeds of the neem tree. It is a natural insecticide for caterpillars and other pests.
Yes, neem is capable of getting rid of “the green caterpillar” and all sorts of insects in all stages — from larvae to adults and everything in between.
Essentially, neem oil disrupts hormones and acts as a fungicide to combat various infections.
Mix 1 teaspoon mild liquid soap with 2 teaspoons neem oil, then add 1 quart of water and spray.
7. Chili Pepper Spray
You can use fresh peppers or chili pepper powder for this natural insecticide, which works quite similarly to garlic insecticide.
If you’re using fresh peppers, puree ½ cup peppers with 1 cup of water, then add another quart of water and boil. Once cooled, strain and add a few drops of mild soap before spraying.
If you’re using chili pepper powder, mix 1 tablespoon with 1 quart and a few drops of mild soap before spraying.
8. Citrus Spray
Citrus is effective at getting rid of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.
Grate the rind of a lemon, add a pint of boiling water, and let the mixture sit overnight.
In the morning, strain through cheesecloth and spray the mixture onto affected plans. Make sure you’re spraying the insect too.
9. Chilli and Wormwood Spray
This creative concoction can be used to repel insects, as well as possums and rabbits.
You want the hotter varieties of chilies, in order for the spray to be most effective.
Blend your chilies and wormwood with a cup or so of water. Once it’s all blended, add 5 cups of water and boil.
Let stand until cool, strain, and spray. Keep the solution away from your eyes.
10. Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.t.) Spray
Another effective caterpillar pest control remedy, Bt is a biological insecticide that is derived from a bacteria found in the soil. It is highly toxic to caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.
Once the larvae ingest the product, feeding will stop and death will follow. It will not harm beneficial insects or birds.
11. Molasses Spray
Some thick, gooey molasses will do the trick — fighting against all types of caterpillars and other critters in your garden!
Mix 1 cup of molasses with 1 liter of water, then shake and spray all over plants to help get rid of caterpillars naturally.
This homemade caterpillar repellent spray is an incredibly easy, quick way to defend all sorts of plants against caterpillars and other insects.
12. Hose ‘Em
This is the simplest, most straightforward option. After all, you’re likely out there with the hose watering your plants anyway!
Take a few minutes to blast those caterpillars and other critters right out of the way.
Spray your plants directly, and as the caterpillars fall off, you can remove or kill them right away.
13. Tomato Leaf Spray
Tomato leaves can be a great way to get rid of pests.
Tomato plants contain alkaloids, including the aptly known “tomatine,” which gets rid of aphids and other insects.
Simply cut up 2 cups of tomato leaves and mix into 1 quart of water, then leave overnight. In the morning, strain and spray.
Commercial Caterpillar Repellent Sprays
If you don’t have the time or you can’t be bothered to whip up any of these DIY recipes, you can opt to buy a natural caterpillar spray.
Below are our top 3 recommended caterpillar killer and deterrent products that are safe for organic gardening use.
Molt-X gets rid of caterpillars, tomato worms, bagworms, cabbage worms, and other leaf-eating worms almost instantly.
It contains the naturally occurring azadirachtin — a very potent compound derived from neem.
Not only is this natural caterpillar killer incredibly effective, but it’s safe for people, pets, birds, earthworms, and other harmless creatures.
It can even be used up until the day of harvest so you don’t have to worry about having a timeline when it comes to getting rid of pests in your garden.
Monterey Garden Insect Spray is a bacterial product that is produced from fermentation.
It contains spinosad which is a substance made from a soil bacterium that is toxic to caterpillars, sawfly larvae, and other pests.
This natural caterpillar repellent can be used on lawns, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and much more. It’s fast-acting, odorless, and easy-to-use.
Simply spray onto the affected area to control caterpillars, moths, leaf miners, and more. You can use this product on any edible plants all the way up until the day of harvest.
This is particularly useful if you have vegetables and fruits that you’re picking on a regular basis.
3. Organic JMS Stylet Oil
JMS Stylet Oil is a fantastic brand if you’re looking for organic caterpillar pest control products.
They have pesticides, fungicides, and much more. These products are safe to use in organic farming.
These insects can present a huge problem when they’re infesting your garden. Fortunately, there are safe, natural ways on how to keep caterpillars off plants.
Whether you’re a DIY kind of person or you’d rather purchase a tried-and-true solution, there’s bound to be something on our list that will resolve your pest problem once and for all!