“I found this little booger crawling on my ‘Special’ plant that’s been growing outside”, writes this reader in her submission regarding the small, green worm-like creature pictured below. “I’m hoping you could identify it. If you have any suggestions about a natural organic product I could use to rid my ‘Special’ plant of this little creepy larva, I’d really appreciate it.” First off, we must mention that, unfortunately, the photo is not of a good enough resolution for us to zoom in on the organism and see its physical characteristics clearly. What we can make out is its green coloration, its bulbous head, and the three sets of prolegs it seems to possess.
Now, what we can do is provide an educated guess based on what we can see, and based on the context our reader provided. And in that case, we would presume that this little green “booger” is a caterpillar of some sort. As we are sure our reader is aware, caterpillars are the larval forms of butterflies and moths. At this stage of its life, the insect is incredibly hungry and must eat tremendous amounts of food in order to then undergo metamorphosis: the process of a caterpillar turning into its adult form (a butterfly or moth) inside a chrysalis of its own making.
It is very difficult to prevent caterpillars from munching on one’s outdoor plants, as that environment is much harder to control than an indoor one. The best one can do to get rid of caterpillars on outdoor plants, without using insecticides (which we never recommend anyway, and which our reader does not seem keen on anyway, given their preference for a “natural organic product”), is to spray one’s plants regularly with soapy water. This makes the stems and leaves of the plants slippery, which makes it harder for the caterpillars to get a grip when climbing the plants. Likewise, pruning is important to keeping caterpillars off one’s plants, and installing mesh barriers around one’s plants can also help with this.
In conclusion, we think that the “little booger” our reader found crawling on her “‘Special'” plant is a caterpillar. They can definitely prove to be pests of the garden, and can defoliate one’s plants, so we understand our reader’s concerns here. Luckily, our reader seems to only have found the one caterpillar so far, which is promising. We hope that the techniques we provided for controlling caterpillar infestations prove effective, and we wish our reader the very best!
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