Monday, October 5, 2015

Garden Update: Caterpillars vs. Cucumbers

Once upon a time, I thought caterpillars were awesome little bugs that grew up to be butterflies.  They could teach you all kinds of life lessons about patience, transformation, and the beauty of change. 

And they are...
When they're not doing their transformations in your struggling cucumber plant!!

That's right! A Cabbage Looper Moth decided to lay a bazillion eggs in my cucumber plant one day, unbeknownst to me.  There I was, going about my normal garden business... watering, fertilizing, spraying away spider mites, when I start noticing little holes in the leaves and black sandy looking stuff everywhere.  I took a closer look and discovered little green caterpillars all over the place! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

cabbage looper caterpillars

My first order of business was to identify them and figure out how to get them gone.  I could pick and squish (ew. no.), pick and drop in soapy water (better), or spray with pesticide ($$).  I decided to go with the soapy water.  Now, I'd never seen a caterpillar infestation before, but I'm pretty sure that's what was going on.  I mean they were everywhere... eating all the leaves and pooping on everything.  My plant had even started to bear little cucumbers, but the stupid caterpillars ate them up too! UGH!

cabbage looper caterpillar garden damage

After days and days of picking caterpillars, the local lizards started hanging around and eating them.  But sadly it was too late.  My cucumber plant finally lost the battle. :(

cabbage looper caterpillar garden damage

It's really upsetting because this particular veggie has been a struggle from the beginning and I was finally making some positive strides when the loopers took their toll.  I'm planning to get a third cucumber plant and try yet again... I feel positive about this time around because with each failed plant, I'm learning new things that will help me be a more successful gardener.

Hopefully the third time is actually a charm.

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