How to give bad caterpillars a case of diarrhea they will never forget

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Are you being attacked by caterpillars eating you tomato plants, your corn plants, or your sting beans?  What about the bag/tent caterpillars eating your pecan, pear, or persimmon trees?  Well, you can give them a bad case of diarrhea, so bad that they will never eat your plants and trees again.  In fact, they will become so dehydrated and sick they will die.  So how do you do this?  You spray or dust your trees and plants with a naturally occurring soil bacterium insecticide called Bacillus Thuringiensis.  This is the active ingredient in some “organic” insecticides.  It comes under a number of names like BT, Javelin, Dipel, Thuricide, and others. 

So how does it work?  Well, you just spray or dust the leaves that are being eaten.  The caterpillar eats some of the spores, along with the leaf, and it enters his digestive system causing him to have a terrible case of diarrhea, dehydration, and then finally death.  And why does it not affect people?  Well, the caterpillar has an alkaline stomach so that he can digest cellulose and other leaf particles, and people have an acid stomach.  In an acid stomach, the spores are killed, but in an alkaline stomach, the spores survive and put out a toxin.  So, give the caterpillars a good dose of BT and let the caterpillars R.I.P.

John Panzarella

6-11-08

 

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