Last year we had caterpillar damage start the second week of august and spent up to 6 hours a day hand picking these little worms out of the buds until mid/late October. Loosing a large amount of our crop! This season we proactively made many changes starting in early April to mitigate the repopulation of the moths that create these pests.


  1. Build an ecosystem; Poly Culture!
  2. 1 to 1 Flower to garden ratio; we planted a 40 foot wide barrier of various sunflowers, zinnias and native’s that stretched the linear distance of our fenced in grow area (one acre). This equated to roughly one acre of flowering plants out side the fence dedicated to beneficial insects and birds; habitat and food source for both. Our bird populations have increased by a thousand fold! The coolest addition to the field are the quail, they have found safety outside the fence under the zinnias in numerous spots as it acts as a thick brush cover for them. Also in the market garden area they have made a home under the basil. Many birds eat twice their body weight in bugs each day; foraging for beetles, flies, ants, moths, aphids grasshoppers, crickets and many other anthropods. We also intensively plated pollinator gardens and various herbs though out the area inside the fence, which has attacked the birds throughout the fenced in acre too. Not only are they on pest management duty but also fertilizing the field as they go.
  3. Weekly Beneficial bug releases starting in June…
    • Podisus Maculiventris (Soldier Bug): This is a predatory stinkbug, the larva hunt down caterpillars and suck the juice out of them with their pointy beak. They come in tubs of 50. We released these over a few weeks and still are seeing eggs right now. Its fair to say they have established themselves well to our ecosystem.
    • Trichogramma spp. (predatory wasp): This near microscopic parasitoid injects moth eggs with its own. The wasp hatches out of the moth egg destroying the pest in an alien like manner. They come on cards; 100K eggs per card with 20 individual pieces to distributive though out the garden. They come on mixed cards with 3 species or you can get a more direct approach if you know what you are targeting. We deal with corn earworms for the most part and trichogramma brassicae specifically go after those. We would use 1 mixed card and 1 direct card each week. One card covers one acre. Ants love these cards so we learn that allowing them to hatch out of direct sunlight safely away from ants was best before moving them out into the field.
    • We did many more releases with other Beneficial’s but these are the ones directed towards moths.
  4. Dyna Trap’s
    • This insect trap focus’ on catching moths more than anything else. They come in half and full acre sizes. We are currently using two of the half-acre sizes. One on the wood line by the chicken coop and one on the back end of the garden. These have a blacklight that attracts the moths, then a fan pushes them down to a catchment area. We’ve found its best to clean these traps out with the brush that comes with them every 3 to 5 days. This trap will catch hundreds of moths per week and sometimes per day at peak times. By far one of the most effective preventives we’ve used! We plan to get several more for future seasons.
  5. Chickens:
    • While we were late to add these amazing predators they are here now and will play a vital role with rotational grazing next year and throughout the off season.
  6. Bacillus thuringiensis:
    • While this isn’t’ used now but its worth mentioning… BT can help with the first instar as they hatch. Its like using a fly swatter after your infested. It will kill some but wont stop them from eating numerous buds before they croak. If you do choose to add this to the ipm strategy we did find deliver brand to be the most effective after reading a VA Tech research article during the 2019 season.


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