Caterpillars are the young of either butterflies or moths. many are pests in the garden, so by killing the caterpillar pest which is often a voracious feeder on plant leaves and flowers, you are potentially decreasing your butterfly population in months to come!
Some caterpillars have the odd nibble - or are present in small enough numbers as to not be a severe problem. A case in point for me, would be the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth in the image above. This little beast was around 8cm long. The parent being the beautiful Elephant Hawk Moth seen in the image below...
Caterpillars come in many forms, some feeding upon foliage and flower petals, some feeding from the inside of fruit, others living their life underground and feeding upon roots of plants - the latter often known as cutworms. At least one type of caterpillar actually lives within the leaf of the plant - the Pyracantha leaf miner - a caterpillar!
On the other side of the gardening/environmental equation, are the caterpillars of the cabbage white Butterfly. No vegetable gardener has sentiment for this troublesome caterpillar, which can decimate a crop of brassicas in a short time.
There are several caterpillars that can cause severe damage to fruit tree foliage and also to the fruit - notably the codling Moth Caterpillar. For the serious fruit grower, there is no choice - the caterpillars are pests.
A small infestation caught at the onset can be treated simply by picking the caterpillars off the affected leaves - wear gloves, for some have an irritant effect on the skin. In the flower garden, a general insecticide will do the trick, whereas on the vegetable plot spray with Imidacloprid - available as Provado.
Your choice - beautiful butterflies/moths or perfect crops!
The eggs are rarely seen - often laid by the butterfly ot moth under on the underside of garden foliage. cabbage white Butterfly eggs are easy to spot, for they are laid in masses and the lime pale lime green shows up quite well on the darker green of the cabbage leaf.
Butterfly, moth eggs laid on the stem of the host plant.