Will slug pellets keep my butterfly caterpillars safe?
February 11, 2018 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Slugs, cabbage loopers, and butterfly larvae roam the vegetable garden beds. Will slug peletts/Sluggo/iron phosphate keep the butterfly larvae safe, but kill the other two?

I have leafy veg. and milkweed growing in the same area. Ideally, I would like to keep this arrangement. If the slug pellets don't kill the loopers, and I need to use another pest control method (such as diatomaceous earth) I may have to move the milkweeds.
posted by film to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Slugs also hate coffee grounds. Caterpillars are usually not bothered by them. It would be worth a try.
posted by parmanparman at 12:24 AM on February 12, 2018

Cabbage looper is the larva of a moth so is probably/possibly not vulnerable to slug pellets but anything that kills them will probably kill the butterflies too.
posted by Botanizer at 5:56 AM on February 12, 2018

I feel your pain. Gorram slugs and cabbage worms.

The stuff in slug pellets is pretty nasty stuff, but a quick Google tells me that it works by attracting the slugs and then acting as a contact poison, so I suspect that wouldn't work great on cabbage loopers.

I can't think of anything that would kill your cabbage looper larvae or moths and NOT harm butterflies. If you've got a terrible infestation of slugs, maybe use the slug pellets to get that under control, and use more bug-friendly methods for the loopers. (Y'know, soapy water on the leaves, handpicking larvae, butterfly net to grab the moths when you see them, profanity.)
posted by desuetude at 7:39 AM on February 12, 2018

Sluggo won't harm either butterfly larvae or cabbage loopers. If the butterfly larvae are feeding exclusively on milkweed and the loopers are only on the greens you could spray spinosad (OMRI-certified, sold under several brands) on the greens. Spinosad would kill butterfly larvae, however, so be careful. Your best course might be to remove loopers from the leafy greens by hand,
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:14 AM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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