Caterpillars represent the larval forms of moths and butterflies, and they have soft, worm-like bodies. Although prevalent in fall, you could still find caterpillars in your house in other seasons, especially when the weather warms up. They get into the house through holes in the screens, cracks in walls, and open windows. Unfortunately, caterpillars aren’t harmless, and contact with these little critters could cause contact dermatitis or even more severe effects.
The good news is that there are easy steps you could follow to get rid of caterpillars in your home, for example, keeping moths and moth eggs from your home, using homemade or store-bought pesticides.
Whether you are dealing with a few occasional caterpillars or an infestation, the remedies below are effective in getting rid of caterpillars.
|How to get rid of caterpillars||How it works|
|Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (BTk)||Systemic toxicity|
|Insecticidal Soap sprays||Contact, destroys the caterpillars’ skin|
|Neem Oil||Oil deters caterpillars and azadirachtin kills them from its anti-feeding effects|
|Chili spray||Repels caterpillars|
Using Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (BTk)
BTk is a naturally-occurring bacteria that’s found on dead and decaying materials in the soil. It’s an effective remedy for caterpillars because of the bad interaction it has with the caterpillar’s digestive systems while remaining safe to humans and pets. At the same time, the dead caterpillars won’t be harmful to birds or other animals that may eat them. So, if you see some caterpillars in your indoor plants, you may want to buy BTk then spray it on the infested plants or spaces (mix with water).
Pyrethrins can be defined as natural pesticides that are extracted from plants, specifically, the chrysanthemums. Pyrethrins are highly toxic to most pests, including caterpillars, but safe to humans and pets (unless ingested in large amounts), which is they’d be the best remedy against caterpillars in your home. Just bear in mind that when the infested area is under direct sunlight, the pyrethrins will be fully degraded after some days. The good news is that pyrethrins kill pests on contact.
Besides pyrethrins, there also are pesticides containing pyrethroids, the synthetic version of pyrethrum. Whichever the active ingredients, they both kill caterpillars on contact. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids attack the nervous system of the caterpillars, affecting nerve function, causing hyperexcitability, which causes paralysis and subsequently death. The only caveat is that the target pests must come in contact with the pesticide for it to work.
Using insecticidal soap spray
Like pyrethrins, the insecticidal soap spray only kills the caterpillars if applied to the pests directly. This option works because the soap damages the caterpillar’s skin, killing them.
To make the insecticidal soap spray, you’d have to mix two tablespoons of soap with about a quart of water in a spray bottle. Shake this mixture well and spray it on the caterpillars directly. If the caterpillar infestation is on indoor plants, use biodegradable soap. You may need more soapy water for larger infestations where it would be easier to pour water on the floor to cover the caterpillars.
Using Neem Oil
Neem oil is a powerful natural insecticide that helps get rid of pests easily. The smell of the oil is repulsive to caterpillars, and in the presence of ingredients like azadirachtin, the caterpillars will die when they ingest the oil because of azadirachtin’s anti-feeding effects in insects/ pests. It causes toxicity in the insects, resulting in their subsequent death. Cold-pressed neem oil like Organic Neem Bliss Cold-Pressed neem seed oil that is free of chemicals is an effective insecticidal that will help you deal with the caterpillar menace fast. It also comes with residual effects, which makes it an excellent option for anyone looking for an organic solution to the caterpillar problem.
If you settle on neem oil, you’ll have to dilute the neem oil with water. More specifically, two tablespoons of neem oil for a gallon of water.
Using Chilli spray
This is the other home remedy you may want to try if you need a natural, DIY solution to get rid of caterpillars.
You’ll need to grind about 3.5 ounces of dried chili in your food processor. Add this powder into ½ gallons of boiling water, then boil the mixture for about 5 minutes. Cool it down by adding half a gallon of cold water plus 2 or 3 drops of liquid soap (biodegradable), then allow the mixture to cool down completely. You could test it out on a leaf or loose caterpillar on the floor, wait for 24 hours to see if the plant reacts to the formulation. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, it means that it’s safe to spray this chili mixture on the caterpillars. Do this every evening.
Using commercial garden pesticides
Sometimes, the most effective remedy against caterpillars would be a more aggressive approach. This should, however, be considered as a last resort. Also, you’d have to take precautions if you have kids and pets around. These pesticides are formulated with pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and permethrins, among other ingredients that kill the caterpillars by working as neurotoxins.
Keep out moths and moth eggs
Caterpillars often come from hatched moth eggs, which means that the most effective strategy for getting rid of caterpillars should start with eliminating moths and moth eggs from your home.
Wash and dry well all your clothing, vacuum and clean out your closet and wardrobes, clean out the pantry, and don’t leave your fruits out in the open. And to manage infestations, get rid of the moth eggs using a broom to sweep the eggs off the walls.
Build a barrier
Keep of caterpillars and other insects by building an insect barrier. Since caterpillars in the house are often brought in by houseplants, you may want to create a physical barrier that makes the houseplants inaccessible to moths, and consequently, caterpillars. A transparent fabric or a fine wire mesh, for example, would keep small insects and caterpillars from passing through to the plants.
Although caterpillars aren’t aggressive, they are disturbing critters that may cause irritation, even as they create an illusion of unhygienic spaces. To get rid of them, you could relocate them outside or drown them in water (if you don’t mind holding them), or you could use the remedies recommended above. Neem oil, soap sprays, BTk, chili sprays, and pyrethrins are all effective remedies. Of course, keeping out moths and moth eggs is another effective solution.
How do I protect plants from caterpillars?
Use a physical barrier made of transparent fabric and get rid of moths in the house.
Which insects can help get rid of caterpillars?
Wasps are the best remedy for caterpillars. Just be careful not to be stung by the wasps.