Yesterday, I knew exactly what I was making for tea right up to the point of walking down to our vegetable garden. We have a large patch of self seeded Nasturtium which appear every year, and I had planned to make our lovely Nasturtium Pesto. That plan quickly changed once I had saw our Nasturtiums and their visitors!
I don’t recall ever seeing Cabbage White Caterpillars on the Nasturtium before. I can only guess this is because they prefer the cabbages I normally grow. This year I’m mixing things up a bit, and haven’t planted any Brassicas at all. It’s clear the caterpillars are making the best of a bad lot, and managing to thrive despite the limited food choice. There was only one thing to do – embrace nature and take a closer look!
A quick google gave me all the info I needed. Cabbage Whites do indeed love Nasturtiums. In fact they are suggested as a companion plant to keep the caterpillars off your Brassicas. The eggs take 4-8 days to hatch, and the little caterpillars (also called cabbage worms) spend their first week feeding on the underside of the leaves, and then feed from the topside during their second week. They grow to about 5cm long and molt 5 times during their growth period, they then pupate.
By my reckoning these little beauties must be almost fully grown, and therefore about ready to pupate. We have a butterfly habitat in which we raised stick insects a few years ago, so when the kids got home from school we decided to re-home 5 into that, so we can observe the process more easily.
The caterpillars don’t seem unduly concerned by their new home, so we hope we’ll get to see them pupate, and then emerge as butterflies in a couple of weeks – ready to start their cycle of devastation on my vegetable garden again!