Noctuids

Larvae of agrotid moths, borers, noctuids

Noctuids are caterpillars generated by those nocturnal moths that we also call moths. These insects of the order of Lepidoptera and of the genus of agrotids often lay their eggs on horticultural plants. At birth, the larvae begin to feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits, damaging the crop and the plant. These larvae are usually medium to large caterpillars, very voracious, and harmful to crops.

There are different types of moth larvae, each caterpillar prefers a type of plant, most attack the leaves of horticultural plants but unfortunately, there are also terricolous nocturnes: some agrotids in fact go to feed on the roots.

Among the moths, there is the corn borer, an annoying butterfly that attacks mainly peppers and corn by laying its eggs on the plants, and the tomato noctua (tomato caterpillar or yellow noctua). There are also moths dangerous for the orchard: for example the Cydia molesta, the carpocapsa, the moths, and the pomegranate borer.

Recognizing the attacks of moth larvae

The moth larvae usually take refuge underground, digging within 10/20 cm from the attacked plant it is possible to find them underground. At night they go out to get food and vegetables from our garden do the shopping. The caterpillars are quite large in size, which is why it is not difficult to find them, even if they are usually not around during the day. On the leaves, it is however very easy to see the holes made by the larvae that feed on the plants of our garden.

When these signs are noticed, it is necessary to intervene as soon as possible: if they are dealt with immediately, it is possible to easily defend the garden from these insects even with biological control methods.

How to fight the nights with the biological fight

The presence of nocturns is very annoying for crops, fortunately, it is quite simple to counter this threat, even those who cultivate with natural methods have at their disposal a series of effective defense methods.

Bacillus thuringiensis. Most of the insecticides that are on the market to kill the larvae are unhealthy chemicals, not allowed in organic farming, and therefore not recommended. Fortunately, there is also a very effective biological insecticide for this specific threat: bacillus thuringiensis. Bacillus is completely harmless to both humans and beneficial insects as it fatally affects the larvae, releasing toxins that damage the digestive system of agrotids and nocturns. It is a selective product that does not affect beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs. When attacks by these caterpillars are found on the plants in the garden, the best way to protect the vegetables is to sprinkle them with products based on Bacillus thuringiensis, the treatment must be done in the evening so that the biological insecticide is present when the nocturnes come out. to eat.

Pheromone traps. To prevent the formation of the larvae, pheromone traps can be placed at the end of spring to capture the adult moths. This type of trap has an attraction based on the sexual chemistry of the insect that allows it to be captured.

Food traps. The nocturnes can also be attracted with a food bait, to be placed in plastic bottles closed by a special trap cap. To attract the moths, a bait based on sweetened and spiced wine is produced, the recipe for the bait and more information on how to make the trap can be read in the article dedicated to Tap Trap biotraps. The trap system is a good natural way to get rid of unwanted moths, especially used on fruit plants. The bottle allows both to monitor the actual presence of these unwelcome insects and to massively capture the agrotids, thus eliminating most of them.


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