does anyone have any tips for encouraging the caterpillars off my dahlias and on to some other plants instead? I realise that to have butterflies we must have caterpillars, so any suggestions of cheapo plants that i could use as sacrificial protection for my dahlias?
please help, i doubt i'll have any dahlias left in 3 more days...
I'm not sure about sacrificial planting - as far as I'm aware, most caterpillars eat a very restricted range of plants anyway (cabbage whites for example). Do you have idea what kind of caterpillars you have on your dahlias? If you can identify them, then it might be possible to find out what kind of plants they are usually attracted to, and surround your dahlias with those!
Alternatively, you could control their numbers by hand picking them off when you see them or using a spray, but obviously neither of those measures are ideal if you're keen to keep the caterpillars in order to promote butterflies in your garden :(
We have the occasional caterpillar on ours too :(
to answer Tracie's question... they are little green ones ;)...
then HUGE green ones by the time they have done! :rant: we pick them off when we find them.
Oh and a little extra, if you bring your dahlias inside as cut flowers and they have caterpillars on them, the caterpillars have a wonderful habit of excreting highly colourful poo that stains whatever it lands on!!! :(
Ah, the well known small green caterpillar :P
Well, I've been googling for a good hour and I'm still none the wiser as to what your caterpillar could be babychickens, or what to suggest! I did find a small article that suggested that you scatter fresh cabbage and lettuce leaves to try and coax the caterpillars away from your flowering plants, but that was generic advice not specific to dahlias :( I guess it'll only be useful if those leaves are a food for your beasties.
I'm afraid my gardening tends towards the easy end of solutions- so instead of tackling the number of slugs in the garden (and putting down chemicals that could harm my pets) I forgo the likes of hostas and instead grow plants that the slugs aren't too keen on. It seems to work for me- but if you have your heart set on growing dahlias I think you'll have to pick them off manually.
cheers people, in one way I'm disappointed that no-one has a good answer for me, but in a different way i'm pleased because i'd not failed to think of a really obvious answer to m'caterpillar issue!
back to picking them off by hand (when i can) it is.