Pest in the garden: Kowhai Caterpillar

I was horrified finding my beautiful Sophora ‘Dragons Gold’ totally stripped! First I thought it had died for some reason. But having a closer look I saw many caterpillars having a party. This must be an attack of the Kowhai moth caterpillar.

Kowhai caterpillar

Kowhai caterpillars often come around during summer through to autumn and are known to strip the foliage from both young and mature kowhai. If your tree is healthy it suffers only very little damage. You quite often even notice. Soon it will throw out a full set of new leaves and you can enjoy your tree/shrub again.

So most of the time there is little need to try to control these caterpillars. But if the invasion is quite big and your whole tree is stripped you probably would like to do something.

Below some natural repellents to control your caterpillars:

  • Pick them of your tree or shake your tree and the caterpillars will fall off. You can collect the caterpillars on a sheet below your tree and discard them. Quite time consuming when you got a big invasion but no nasty sprays.
  • Spray your tree with a home made chilli spray. The content of the chillies deters caterpillars and maggots from plants that have been treated. An easy natural repellent spray.
  • Spray your tree with neem oil. Another natural spray. Be aware that neam oil is toxic for bees so spray after dusk when the bees are no longer out.
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