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The up to four and a half centimeters large caterpillars of the vegetable owl not only damage the leaves by pitting, but also nibble into the fruits of tomatoes and peppers and leave there larger amounts of feces. Often the majority nocturnal larvae even hollow out the fruit.
Older caterpillars are usually green-brown, have various black warts and carry a conspicuous, mostly yellow-colored side line. When touched, they curl up. The later pupation and hibernation takes place in the soil. The moths are uncoloured brown.
Recognize vegetable owl
The nocturnal butterflies of the common European owl reach a span of about four centimeters and appear from mid-May to late July and from early August to mid-September in appearance. The vegetable owl has purplish fore wings with a kidney-shaped spot and a fine jagged line at the outer margin.
After pupation in the soil, the first moths appear from May. As a small clutch they prefer to lay their eggs on tomato ("tomato moth"), lettuce, paprika and other vegetables (hence their name "vegetable owl"). After a week, the caterpillars hatch, which skin five to six times and pupate after 30 to 40 days. Either the doll is wintering or the second generation moths appear after three to four weeks.
Vegetable owl development cycle: The larval stage lasts from September to mid-October (first generation) and from early August to mid-September (second generation). The pupa hibernates in the ground, then the moths appear in spring
Fight the vegetable owl
Check the endangered vegetables and collect the caterpillars in case of infestation. If possible, these should be transferred to other fodder plants, for example stinging nettles. In the greenhouse can be set up pheromone traps that attract with a perfume mating moths. For a biological control, there are repellent preparations based on neem oil or it can be used as natural enemies predator bugs. Frequently, setting up insect nets helps to keep the moths away from the vegetables.
Preferably use a biological pesticide such as "XenTari" for control. It contains special bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) that parasitize the caterpillars. You should refrain from the use of chemical preparations.