Caterpillar eating all my dill, what to do?

chicagocanine(zone 5, Chicago)July 30, 2006

I just went out to water the (small, under 1' tall) dill plant I have in a container on the porch. It looked odd, so I looked closer and saw a fairly large caterpillar sitting on the plant. I'm not sure what kind it is, it's rather dully-colored.

On closer inspection I found that most of the leaves of the dill have been eaten or turned brown. It's my only dill plant.

I'm not sure what to do now... Should I just leave it alone? I don't know if there are even enough leaves left there for the caterpillar to survive on as most of them are gone!

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Squish it! And keep a close look-out for eggs and babies. Squish them too. So - it might turn into a beautiful butterfly one day, but you'll be left dill-less. That leaves you with a choice! You could always spray the plant with some garlic spray, but squishing is a faster solution when you haven't (yet) got plagues of beasties to deal with.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 3:53AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I plant dill, parsley and lots of herbs just for the cats. Here are some of the favorites.

Eastern Black Swallowtails feed on fennel, parsley, dill, carrot, parsnip, and rue.

Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwings are common on passion vine.

Monarch butterflies love plants in the butterfly weed family and fennel.

Queen butterflies also munch on the milkweeds.

Giant Swallowtail prefers citrus and rue.

Painted Lady larvae love borage and members of the thistle family and sunflower.

I love it when I go out and see the cats, and then the chrysalis and then the beautiful butterfly. You can always buy dill at the grocery store, but you can't buy butterflies there. But then I guess it is your choice.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 9:00AM
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pick and throw.... :o) Next year, plant more for the caterpillars to eat, you can put them from one plant to another.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 10:36AM
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teryaki(z5B NE OHIO)

Grow more dill and leave the lil' guy alone so you can enjoy the butterflies and they can help pollenate your plants for years to come!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 9:05PM
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granite(z6 NC)

Or...relocate the cat to a parsley, carrot, or Queen Anne's Lace plant.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 12:33AM
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Plant more dill! The butterflies are worth it!

And dill, while it's my all time favorite plant, doesn't really last very long anyway. If you stagger the sowing, and start a few more seeds every 2 weeks or so, you'll have plenty of dill all summer long, and you can share with the beleagured caterpillars. I mean -- it's a potential butterfly, not a cutworm or something icky!

(If you can't bare to share, you can tuck some Queen Anne's lace into a corner somewhere; they seem to like that, too!)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 8:49PM
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chicagocanine(zone 5, Chicago)

Thanks for the suggestions guys... I went out to check on the plant/caterpillar again and it's gone. I don't know if it may have burrowed into the pot or if it got eaten by something-- I put a sort of "cage" over the pot because something kept digging up the dill so I think the caterpillar would have been fairly well protected from being eaten, but who knows... The plant isn't doing too well unfortunately either :P

I am wary of planting dill in the actual garden because I've heard it spreads like crazy, which is why I went with a pot. Maybe next time I'll just get a whole bunch of pots and that way maybe some dill will survive! I think this is the 3rd or 4th planting I've done in that pot this season-- the first one, something dug the seeds up, and the next time something dug the young plants up...something out there really likes dill!

I actually tried to plant a butterfly garden in the back of my yard from a "butterfly garden roll" (a roll that supposedly had seeds for a bunch of plants) but it never sprouted. I tried again with a butterfly garden mix that came in a shaker can, but only a few plants came up...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 12:57AM
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If you let dill go to seed, you'll find sprouts coming up in the most unexpected spots. (One spring I had sprouts in a bag of potting soil that had been opened in the vicinity of a dill plant!)

But the seedlings are easy to identify, and very easy to pull up, so I wouldn't classify it as a pest.

I let the plants go to seed, because I love the taste. When I come home from work I walk in thru the backyard, I pull off a few seeds and chew them while I inspect the day's growth.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Dill is a most useful host plant for cats. I wouldn't hurt the little gal. Let her do her thing, and reap the rewards of helping out ma nature.
Plant some for you, and some for the other ladies in your garden. After all, what would a garden be without butterflies! :-)


    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 7:07PM
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I discovered the cats last year eating my dill so looked them up so I was delighted to share my dill so I would have more butterflies around. I now let some of all my hers and plants go to seed so I attract more butterflies, bees and birds. Dill comes up now everywhere, like my oregano and other plants and I simply control jow much where so I intentionally have enough for me and for the 'good' creatures.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:35PM
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