University of Florida

Controlling Caterpillars with Bt

Hungry caterpillars can be serious pests in the garden, but you can manage them naturally with a product known as Bt.

The name "Bt" is actually an abbreviation for a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis that's found in soil and acts as a natural insecticide.

Bt works by interfering with the digestive systems of caterpillars, causing them to stop eating and then die. Although Bt is poisonous for caterpillars, it's safe for animals, humans, and the environment.

Different strains of Bt control different insect larvae. Look for the type that targets caterpillars that feed on vegetables, trees, and shrubs, often sold under the brand names Dipel and Thuricide.

You may need to apply Bt more than once to fully eliminate pest populations.


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