Does Salt Kill Caterpillars? The Best Alternatives

Caterpillars can be quite the pesky little creatures, munching away on our beloved plants and leaving destruction in their wake. As gardeners, we’re always on the lookout for ways to keep these critters under control.

While there are many methods for getting rid of these pests, one often mentioned is using salt to kill caterpillars. But does it work?

Besides adding flavor to our meals, salt has been known to play a big role in killing pests in your home. This versatile mineral can be a natural and effective solution to keep pests such as ants, slugs, and snails away from your plants and gardens. So, let’s dive into the world of salt and explore how it can help us with caterpillar infestation.  

 We’ll dive into the science behind the salt solution and explore whether or not it’s an effective way to keep your garden free from caterpillar damage. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a beginner looking for a natural solution, keep reading to find out if salt is the answer to your caterpillar problem.

Does salt kill caterpillars?

Caterpillars are part of the insect order Lepidoptera. They are characterized by having a chrysalis, or pupa, which they shed in late summer to early fall and then emerge as an adult moth or butterfly.

Although salt can kill other insects, such as cockroaches, slugs, and snails, it is ineffective against caterpillars. An outer covering protects caterpillars called the cuticle which prevents dehydration and desiccation.

Salt doesn’t penetrate this protective layer, so it won’t harm them. Salt only affects animals that don’t have this protein on their exoskeleton, like slugs and snails.

However, they can be killed by other methods, so it’s important to know which ones work and which don’t.

On the contrary, Salt is necessary for caterpillars to survive because it helps them absorb water from their surroundings.

In addition, salt contains high quantities of calcium carbonate, which helps them form their chrysalis or cocoon. Caterpillars could not pupate or metamorphose into adult moths or butterflies without salt. See what happens when you put salts on caterpillar

Salt can be used to revive caterpillars.

Have you ever had a caterpillar drowned in the water? Well, salt can revive them by providing them with the necessary moisture. 

Salt is an essential mineral for the survival of our planet. It helps us produce food, keeps us healthy, and protects us from bacteria and other harmful organisms. But did you know that it also has a surprising ability to revive drowning caterpillars?

Salt will help expel the CO2 from their bodies, promoting breathing. Pick out the drowned caterpillar and pour some salt on it. The larvae should start breathing within 5 minutes of being covered in the salt.

 The salt will help to balance the water levels in the caterpillar’s body, rehydrating it and bringing it back to life. You can observe the caterpillar’s reaction to see if it has been revived. If it moves around and starts to feed, it is a sign that the salt has worked.

Will Epsom salt kill caterpillars?

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral salt often used for agricultural and horticultural purposes, such as increasing the availability of magnesium in soil and promoting plant growth. However, it has no toxic effects on caterpillars or other garden pests.

No, Epsom salt will not kill caterpillars. Epsom salt is a type of salt commonly used as a soil amendment and fertilizer, as it contains magnesium, an important nutrient for plants. While it can be harmful to some pests, it is not toxic to caterpillars and will not kill them.

Does salt kill caterpillars

Suppose you are looking to control caterpillar populations in your garden. In that case, there are other methods you can use, such as handpicking the caterpillars and removing them from the plants, using biological controls such as introducing natural predators or applying insecticidal soap or neem oil.

It’s important to follow the instructions carefully when using any pesticide to minimize harm to non-target species and to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Effective ways to kill caterpillars 

There are a lot of ways to get rid of caterpillars. But the most effective is to use proven natural remedies.

Caterpillars are not always bad for your garden but can be annoying. If you want to get rid of them, there are some natural remedies that will help you do it.

Handpick them:

If you’re looking to get rid of caterpillars, one effective method is to handpick them. This involves physically removing each caterpillar from your plants and either killing them or relocating them elsewhere.

While this may sound tedious, it’s an easy and safe method for removing caterpillars from your garden without using any harmful chemicals. To handpick caterpillars, inspect your plants regularly and look for any signs of caterpillar damage or presence.

When you find a caterpillar, use your hands to gently remove it from the plant and place it in a container filled with vinegar solution. This will kill the caterpillar, and you can dispose of it properly. Handpicking may take some time and effort, but it’s a simple and effective way to get rid of caterpillars and keep your plants healthy.

Attract parasitic wasps:

Another effective way to kill caterpillars is by attracting parasitic wasps. These wasps lay their eggs on the caterpillars, and the eggs hatch into larvae that feed on the caterpillar from the inside.

This not only kills the caterpillar but also helps to control their population. To attract parasitic wasps, you can plant flowers that provide nectar for the adult wasps and make sure to keep your garden free of pesticides that might harm these beneficial insects.

You can also purchase parasitic wasp cocoons or larvae and release them into your garden. With a little help from these tiny wasps, you can keep your garden free of caterpillar damage while also supporting a healthy ecosystem.

Use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

Using Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is another great option. This is a naturally occurring bacteria that are harmful to certain types of insects, including caterpillars, but safe for humans, pets, and other beneficial insects. Bt is available in online stores like amazon

get rid of caterpillar

Here’s how to use Bt:

  1. Buy a Bt product – you can find Bt products in most garden centers or online.
  2. Prepare the solution – follow the instructions on the product label to mix the Bt powder with water.
  3. Apply the solution – use a spray bottle to apply the solution directly to the affected plants, ensuring to cover the leaves and stems thoroughly.
  4. Repeat as needed – reapply the solution if you still see caterpillars after a few days.

Bt is a highly effective way to kill caterpillars without using harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. So, give it a try and see the results for yourself. 

Use beneficial nematodes:

Beneficial nematodes are tiny, worm-like creatures that are the ultimate pest control solution for caterpillars. They are completely safe and environmentally friendly, making them the perfect option for any gardener who wants to keep their plants healthy and protected.

To use beneficial nematodes, mix the nematodes with water and sprinkle them on the soil around your plants. The nematodes will then enter the soil and search for caterpillar larvae, infecting them with deadly bacteria. This will kill the larvae and prevent them from causing any further damage to your plants.

One of the best things about using beneficial nematodes is that they are incredibly effective and long-lasting. Once they are in the soil, they will continue to kill any new caterpillar larvae that hatch, ensuring your plants stay protected for a long time.

So, if you’re looking for an effective and natural way to kill caterpillars and protect your plants, give beneficial nematodes a try. 

Neem oil

Neem oil is an all-natural solution that can effectively kill caterpillars and other pests without harming the environment or your plants.

Effective ways to kill caterpillars 

Here are the steps you need to follow to kill caterpillars using Neem oil:

  1. Mix your chosen Neem oil with water: You need to dilute the Neem oil before using it. Mix a small amount of Neem oil with water in a spray bottle. You can use one tablespoon of Neem oil for every gallon of water.
  2. Spray the solution: Once the Neem oil solution is ready, spray it on the affected plants. Make sure to cover the leaves, stems, and flowers thoroughly. You can also use a paintbrush to apply the solution on hard-to-reach areas.
  3. Repeat the process: Caterpillars are tough pests, and you may need to repeat the process multiple times to get rid of them completely. Make sure to spray the solution once every week or until you see no more caterpillars on your plants.

Use commercial pesticides:

One effective way to kill caterpillars is to use a commercial pesticide. These products are designed specifically to target and eliminate unwanted insects. They come in various forms, including sprays, dust, and granules, and can be purchased at most garden centers or hardware stores.

To use a commercial pesticide, follow the instructions on the label, being careful to wear gloves and protective clothing if necessary. Apply the product directly to the caterpillars and their surrounding area, covering as much of the plant as possible.

The pesticide will work by either killing the caterpillar directly or disrupting its digestive system, causing it to stop feeding and ultimately die. It is important to note that commercial pesticides can be harmful to other beneficial insects, so it is best to use them sparingly and only when necessary.

Use Horticultural oil:

Horticultural oil is a great way to kill caterpillars in your garden. This oil is made specifically for plants and is safe to use on edibles. It smothers the caterpillars and breaks down their protective layer, causing them to suffocate.

Effective's ways to kill caterpillars 

To use horticultural oil, mix it with water according to the instructions on the label and apply it directly to the plants where you’ve seen the caterpillars. It’s best to apply in the evening when the temperature is cooler, and the plants are less likely to be damaged.

This method is highly effective and can be repeated every 7 to 10 days until all caterpillars have been eradicated. Ensure to follow the instructions on the label and avoid using horticultural oil in hot, dry conditions or when temperatures are above 90°F.

Overall, horticultural oil is a safe and effective way to eliminate caterpillars from your garden without harming other beneficial insects or causing any damage to your plants.

Releasing natural predators:

One of the most effective ways to get rid of caterpillars is by releasing natural predators. This method is safe and sustainable and helps maintain the balance of nature. Some common predators of caterpillars include birds, wasps, and ladybugs. These creatures feed on caterpillars, effectively controlling their population.

Releasing natural predators is non-toxic and has no harmful effects on the environment. Unlike chemical pesticides, which can cause long-term damage to the soil and water, natural predators are harmless and provide an eco-friendly solution.

Another option is to attract natural predators by planting flowers and herbs that are known to attract these beneficial insects, such as dill, fennel, and yarrow. This not only helps to control the caterpillar population but also provides a habitat for these important pollinators and predators to thrive in. 


Salt may seem like a quick and easy solution to caterpillar infestations, but salt does not kill caterpillars. While salt may be harmful to some insects, it does not have a strong enough impact to kill caterpillars.

Caterpillars can tolerate a certain amount of salt in their diet, which is not lethal to them. In fact, some species of caterpillars feed on salt-tolerant plants, which means that they have developed a resistance to high salt levels.

If you are looking for a natural and safe way to get rid of caterpillars, consider using other methods such as handpicking, physical barriers, or releasing natural predators.

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