How To Prevent Caterpillars On Your Lawn

Written by Ian Thompson

Ian holds a Masters in Turf Management from Sydney University, has over 20 years experience working as a golf course Superintendent, turf manager, product formulation and development. We call him our resident Lawn genius.

Any keen lawn lover knows that sinking feeling when you suddenly spot a hungry caterpillar — or worse, the devastating effects of their feeding frenzy. The tell-tale destruction of your prized lawn is enough to make any lawn lover’s heart sink. While the odd caterpillar here and there shouldn’t cause too much trouble, a whole army of caterpillars descending on your lawn can very quickly strip the lawn entirely bare. If you want to save your lawn from hoards of hungry crawlers like Lawn Armyworm, here are our best tips on how to prevent caterpillars on your lawn. 

Prevention is the best cure 

The first thing to know about caterpillars is that although they are small, they are big eaters. That might sound a little silly, considering how tiny they are but they can gorge themselves on a large amount in a relatively short period of time. Still, moth larvae — Lawn Armyworm or caterpillars — see your lawn as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

An idea for how to prevent caterpillars on your lawn is to stay on the lookout for their eggs before hatching. Moths like Lawn Armyworm adults are attracted to bright night lights, so outdoor lighting may be the way to rid of any unwanted pests. 

Certain species will lay their eggs on the eaves of your roof or the sides of your house — tell-tale signs they may be after your lawn next. Butterfly eggs look small, round and yellow and lay in neat little rows close to each other. Moth eggs are of a similar size but more egg-shaped and whiter in colour. You can pinch off moth eggs and relocate them to save your lawn come hatching time. 

Identifying caterpillars

Because not all insects are harmful to our lawns, insecticides aren’t always your first port of call. We’ve listed a few solutions to help you identify the bad guys like Lawn Armyworm. 

  • Soapy water Mixing 50ml of dish soap with 5L of water creates an undesirable environment within the top few centimetres of the soil, forcing them out of their homes and up to the surface where we can see them. Does soapy water kill caterpillars? No, soapy water doesn’t kill caterpillars, but it will bring them up to the surface to identify them as a friend or foe. 
  • Scouting at night — Caterpillars are shy little creatures, afraid of becoming food for birds. They come out to play once the sun has gone. So, a late-night scavenger hunt with a torch will help you find a few.

Now, we have heard about the possibility of using a vinegar and water solution as a repellent for caterpillars, slugs and snails. And if you are wondering, does vinegar kill caterpillars? Yes, vinegar does kill caterpillars. Sadly though, vinegar is highly acidic and will severely affect the pH of your soil and damage other soil microbes that are living below the surface. It’s not on our recommendation list.

An insurance policy for your lawn

If you are looking for ready-made products with set and forget technology to protect your lawn against grubs and caterpillars, try using Acelepryn. With one simple application, this advanced technology protects your lawn for up to 6 months! On top of that, its excellent safety profile makes it an ideal option for all lawn users — including little ones and your pets.

The Lawn Shed — your expert guide for all things gardening

Whether you’re wondering how to prevent caterpillars in your lawn or how to kill Lawn Armyworms, The Lawn Shed has all the products, hints and tips you need to keep your greenery thriving. Have a burning question about your turf? Consult the lawn genius today!

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