The Sweet Ingredient That'll Banish Caterpillars From The Garden

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

If you have ever seen large holes in the leaves of your plants, it's likely that a caterpillar or two has taken it upon themselves to make a meal of your garden. Before they earn their wings, butterflies are caterpillars for anywhere between two and five weeks. They spend the entirety of this time foraging for food to bulk up and prepare to create and transform inside a chrysalis. Unfortunately for gardeners, since their diet mainly consists of plant matter like leaves, grass, and flowers, caterpillar meals often come at the expense of crops. If you and your plants are victims of caterpillar munching, simply use a homemade molasses spray to keep the pesky critters away. 

While it's frustrating to see your precious plants destroyed, larvae, caterpillars, and butterflies are critical parts of the ecosystem. That being said, you do not want to harm them. This molasses hack simply drives caterpillars away from your plants without the use of any harmful pesticides that would hurt the insects or the plants being protected.

Initiating the hack

First and foremost, you will need to gather your materials. For this hack, you will need a spray bottle, liquid soap, and molasses, all of which can be purchased at your local grocery store. While any liquid soap will do the trick, if you're looking for an eco-friendly, biodegradable formula, you can try Cleancult liquid dish soap, which you can get on Amazon.

Measure and pour 1 quart of warm water into a container and add 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1 teaspoon of soap. Mix the solution, then pour the mixture into your empty spray bottle and let it cool. Once it reaches room temperature, you can get to work. Spray the mixture on the plants and leaves that caterpillars frequent, being sure to cover both sides of each leaf. Be sure to repeat this step a few times a week and even more often after a storm, as the solution can be easily washed away by even a quick shower.

Perfecting the multipurpose hack

Not only does this hack repel caterpillars, but it is an equally effective deterrent for keeping other insects out of your garden, like beetles and aphids who are looking for a quick meal. Molasses is typically known to humans as a critical component of delicious and festive sweets. However, to insects, molasses comes across as bitter, uninviting, and unappetizing, sending the pesky crawlers to find food elsewhere.

As mentioned earlier, this hack is overall very safe for your plants. Molasses is natural, and liquid soap diluted in a much larger amount of water is relatively harmless to plants. However, some plants and trees, like sweet peas, cherries, plums, hawthorn, and tomatoes, are highly sensitive to the chemicals in soap. The main reason that soap is used in this molasses hack is to ensure that the solution sticks and lasts longer on the leaves it is protecting. That being said, you can still use this trick on more sensitive plants. Just leave out soap when mixing your solution, and be sure to reapply it at least once a day for the best results.