How To Get Rid Of Caterpillars On A Lime Tree

Caterpillars may become beautiful moths or butterflies, but before they do, they can eat the leaves off of your plants and trees. Are your lime trees infested with caterpillars? Are you looking for a way to get rid of them? We have researched this topic and come up with options for you.

You can remove caterpillars from your lime trees in different ways, but it's a good idea to do this organically. You can use DIY pesticides as a remedy for your caterpillar problems. Here are some methods you can try for removing them:

  • Handpick each caterpillar
  • Spray neem oil
  • Use burlap as a trap
  • Get the lime tree out of the limelight
  • Add plants that deter pests
  • Attract birds
  • Use insect net covering
  • Try bacterial control
  • Spray a solution of water and dishwashing liquid 
  • Spray a solution of vinegar and water 
  • Use the garlic spray method

Throughout this post, we will discuss each one of these methods thoroughly. We'll also provide you with tips for maintaining your trees. So keep reading for more information.

Fully grown lime photographed on a lime tree, How To Get Rid Of Caterpillars On A Lime Tree

Eliminating Caterpillars On A Lime Tree

You are probably familiar with the stages of growth of a butterfly. You know that before it grows to have wings and pollinate your garden, a butterfly is first a caterpillar.

Caterpillars can be beneficial to the ecosystem, but your plants may become casualties to their growth.

When you spot caterpillars on your lime tree, you don’t necessarily need to grab a synthetic pesticide. You can remove caterpillars organically.

Handpick The Caterpillars

This is the most organic way of removing caterpillars from a tree. If your lime tree is not very high, you can inspect it and pick off the caterpillars by hand.

You should wear gloves when you do this. Some caterpillars have spikes that can cause itchiness, so you don’t want to touch them with bare hands.

A giant caterpillar crawling on a lime tree

Inspect the leaves individually. If the caterpillar has not eaten most of a leaf, you can remove the caterpillar.

If the caterpillar ate most of the leaf, pick off the leaf with the caterpillar on it, and place it in a bucket or basin with soap and water. You can discard these leaves.

It's not easy to spot some caterpillars, so this process can be labor-intensive. However, this process ensures the tree and other pollinators will not be hurt by chemical sprays.

Use Neem Oil

Neem oil comes from the neem tree and is a natural pesticide. It has a garlicky or sulfur smell that is known to deter pests. The oil acts as a repellant that restricts the insects from laying their eggs.

You can spray neem oil diluted in water on a caterpillar-infected lime tree to get rid of them. To make the spray, you should mix two ounces of neem oil with a gallon of water.

Click here to see this neem oil on Amazon.

Create A Burlap Trap

If the lime tree has grown, you can wrap burlap around the truck to serve as a trap for the caterpillars. Caterpillars that have grown to an inch long will move down the trunk of the tree. 

To trap them in burlap, you will need to cut a piece of burlap into a strip about 12 to 18 inches wide. The strip should be long enough to wrap around your lime tree.

A caterpillar eating away the leaves of a lime tree

Next, fasten the burlap by tying it around the tree with string or wire. Allow the upper part of the burlap to flop over so you’ll have two layers.

The caterpillars will be attracted to shade of the burlap, and you’ll soon see them gathered there.  

Once you trap them, you can easily remove them or squish them.

Get The Lime Tree Out Of The Limelight

If you have potted your lime tree, do not place it near a light post or light source. As you know, lights attract moths at night. This will cause them to lay eggs on your plants or trees.

Add Plants That Deter Pests

This is an easy fix for your caterpillar issues. A lot of plants naturally deter insects. So, you should plant these to complement your lime tree. Many of these plants also attract other insects that are beneficial to your garden.  

Herbs like basil, dill, lemon grass, and thyme deter insects. So having them is beneficial to other plants and to your cooking as well.

Attract Birds

Instead of spraying pesticides, why not attract predators to your garden? This is a simple way of removing pesky caterpillars.

A Robin eating a caterpillar in its nest

You can install a birdhouse or bird feeder near your lime tree to attract birds. Soon enough, they’ll eat the caterpillars crawling on the leaves of the tree.


Netting is another effective way of protecting plants and trees from unwanted insects. These nets will keep butterflies and insects from laying eggs in the trees.

Click here to see this cover on Amazon.

Try Bacterial Control

The natural bacteria bacillus thuringiensis is poisonous to caterpillars. Note that it is not harmful to trees, plants, pollinators, pets, or humans. 

You can apply the bacteria to the leaves of the affected tree and wait for the caterpillars to feed on them. The bacteria destroys the lining of the caterpillars’ stomachs, killing them in a matter of days.

Click here to see this BT spray on Amazon.

Spray A Solution Of Water And Dishwashing Liquid 

If your tree has grown, and it will be difficult to inspect each leaf, don’t worry. Try spraying the tree with a mixture of water and dishwashing liquid.

You’ll need about four cups of water and a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Mix these two in a sprayer, and you are ready to go.  

Spraying the solution in the infected area once a week is enough to keep the caterpillars away. The best time to spray this is in the early morning or in the evening. Other pollinators will not be affected when you spray at these times.

Spray A Solution Of Vinegar And Water

You may have heard of the power of vinegar and water in cleaning different surfaces. The same solution can be used to get rid of caterpillars on lime trees. Vinegar is a natural pesticide that deters many insects.

Just add two tablespoons of vinegar to one gallon of water. Then spray the mixture directly on the caterpillars or on areas where they gather.

Use The Garlic Spray Method

Using garlic spray on plants

A garlicky solution is another mixture you can use on your lime tree. To make this solution, mix one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with four cups of water.

Next, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Get three garlic cloves and pound them until they’re finely crushed. Add the crushed garlic to the solution, mix it well, and pour it into a sprayer.

This can also be sprayed on affected areas once a week.

Click here to see this sprayer on Amazon.

Caterpillar Control Pesticides

When you feel that there is a need to use a pesticide to get rid of your caterpillar problem, you should consider buying one that is OMRI-listed to ensure that it is organic and acceptable for your plants.

Click here to see this insect spray on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Caterpillars on a lime tree can be easy or hard to remove depending on how many your trees have.

Removing a caterpillar whenever you see one is essential to avoid dealing with an infestation. If there are too many of these crawlers, you will have a difficult time getting rid of them.

A caterpillar eating away the leaves of a lime tree

In this post, we covered different organic and inorganic methods of removing caterpillars from a lime tree. Whichever way you use should help to get rid of your caterpillar problem, provided you take action immediately.

If you found this post helpful, check out these related articles:

How To Get Rid Of Leaf Miners On Citrus

What Causes Black Spots On Lemon Tree Leaves?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *