The Q&A Archives: Caterpillars Bad Or Good

Question: We are being driven crazy by a large number of caterpillars
that are eating our plants including some roses that friends
from Sierra Madre gave us from your nursery. They are
lovely and it is making me very upset. They are black
and super fuzzy.....bad or good?

Answer: Caterpillars such as you describe are the immature stage of either butterflies or moths. They do have voracious appetites, but they feed for just a short period of time before pupating and turning into adults. Without knowing exactly what you're dealing with, I can only suggest some options: You can leave them alone, knowing they'll quit feeding in a few weeks. You can handpick them from your plants and destroy them. Or, you can take a few to your local Cooperative Extension office to find out exactly what they are. If they are bad guys, the biocontrol Bt (bacillus thuringensis) is effective against caterpillars. It's a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison, so if you use it, expect the caterpillars to continue feeding until they've ingested a fatal dose. Best wishes with your roses!

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