Naturally Beneficial Bacteria Keep Hungry Caterpillars at Bay

Dealing with garden pests as they munch on all your hard work can be overwhelming. Caterpillars or worms can be particularly frustrating – they’re hidden for most of their life cycle and can cause substantial plant damage, even in small numbers. Fortunately, gardeners have a secret weapon against caterpillar damage that originates from right below our feet – naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that targets these pests specifically when they feed on the leaves of treated plants.

Bt stands for bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that grows organically on decaying matter in soil. Since 1958, various strains of Bt have been used in the United States to control plant-munching pests on food crops – with no impact on beneficial insects when used as directed. Many different Bt strains are used to target different pests, and wielding the correct variety of Bt will ensure you’re taking care of the problem insects in your garden. Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer targets worms and caterpillars as they feed on the plants you work so hard to cultivate.

How can you use Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer in the garden?
This concentrate uses a variety of bacillus thuringiensis called kurstaki (Btk for short). This strain specifically targets worms and caterpillars in the garden, including cabbage looper, tomato hornworm, imported cabbage worm, bagworm, tent caterpillar and others. However, for Colorado potato beetles, you’ll need another variety of Bt.

How does it work?
Btk works in the pest’s digestive system. Once leaf-eating worms ingest the treated plant, the bacteria will activate. It will paralyze the stomach and prevent pests from feeding until they die. While affected pests will stop feeding immediately, it may take a few days to eliminate the caterpillars, so you may still see them crawling around after a day or two. Depending upon how much of the bacteria the pest ate, it can take between 48 hours to two weeks to be effective. Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer won’t affect birds, earthworms or bene¬≠ficial insects like honeybees and ladybugs when used as directed.

How do you use it?
Follow instructions on the packaging to dilute the concentrate. Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer must be ingested by worms or caterpillars to work, so make sure to apply at the first signs of damage. Spraying this product on eggs and other non-feeding stages of the life cycle won’t be effective. After heavy rains, spray again as soon as your plants are dry. And during dry periods, repeat treatment at ¬≠five- to seven-day intervals while caterpillars are active. Spray on your edible plants right up to the day you harvest.

When you see the growing season’s first sign of caterpillar damage, reach for Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer to protect your veggies and promote a successful harvest.