What Do Caterpillars Hate?

Caterpillars are one of the worst and most annoying pests for any garden owner. Caterpillars can munch down complete plants and cause extensive damage. Luckily, there are certain things that deter caterpillars. So, what do caterpillars hate?

There are scents and plants that caterpillars hate and will avoid that particular place if a smell they hate or a plant they dislike is present.  

Caterpillars have a huge diet. They will completely wipe out a plant and eat every part of it, including the stems, fruits, leaves, and flowers. Caterpillars need to eat as much as possible until they pupate because, during pupation, they can’t eat anything, so they utilize the food they ate and store it.

This makes them a huge threat to gardens and crops.

Using sprays of certain scents can make a caterpillar go away. Similarly, there are several plants that caterpillars can’t stand being near. Caterpillars cause a lot of damage to flowers, trees, plants, and herbs, so using scents of things that caterpillars hate will stop a caterpillar infestation and save your greenery. 

What Plants Do Caterpillars Hate?

You can grow several plants that can repel caterpillars. These plants have scents that caterpillars truly despise, so they avoid going to areas where these plants are located. You can put them in your flower bed or vegetable and fruit garden, and no caterpillar will come close. 


Lavender is a herb with a very pleasing and satisfying scent. Lavender has very calming qualities. You can put lavenders in pots or on the ground in your yard or garden. It’s a mint family member and has pretty little light purple flowers.

Planting lavender near flower and vegetable gardens helps bring in more pollinators more frequently in your garden and helps your garden flourish. 

If caterpillars are annoying you by damaging and wiping out your fruits and vegetables, lavenders are especially helpful as they keep all the nuisances such as pests away.

Growing lavenders in your garden will keep all the caterpillars away, and the caterpillars will avoid eating near that area again. 


Rosemary is an abundant herb used across the culinary world. You can plant it outdoors in a pot or directly in the ground where you want protection against caterpillars the most.

It has strongly scented oils that make it an ideal caterpillar repellent. Its potent scent naturally allows it to be one of the plants that caterpillars hate the most to be around. 

Other Plants to Consider

Peppermint, sage, and mugwort are some of the other plants that release strong scents to repel caterpillars from going near them or their surrounding area. All of these mentioned plants are also a good addition to your garden as they’re easily manageable and have amazing scents. 

What Smells Do Caterpillars Hate?

Many items are natural pest repellents as they have scents that pests like caterpillars hate.

Caterpillars have an amazing sense of smell, and if they smell something out of the ordinary or a smell that hides and overpowers other scents such as their source for food or shelter, or if it’s simply a strong smell, then the caterpillar will go away and avoid going in that area. 


Vinegar itself has a very potent smell, and it is also usually mixed with other chemicals or scents to repel pests and insects from your yard, garden, or lawn. It’s a natural repellent for nuisances such as caterpillars or any other insect infesting your garden.

You can mix vinegar with water to spray anywhere you suspect a caterpillar to be. Vinegar is safe for most plants. Keep in mind that you’ll have to spray it again if it rains as it can easily wash off. If you’re worried it will impact your plants, do a small patch test to check.


Cedarwood is excellent at repelling insects and pests. Caterpillars and other pests hate the strong scent, so it makes a very good pest repellent. Cedarwood has spray products that you can use as a repellent to stay in areas where there might be a caterpillar infestation. 

Garlic and Hot Pepper

Garlic and hot peppers are useful to make any dish’s flavour exciting and are widely used in cooking. But, they also can make good repellents for pests and insects such as caterpillars.

Hot peppers contain capsaicin which adds a hot and spicy flavour to peppers, and garlic adds another intense smell to them.

What Predators Do Caterpillars Have?

Caterpillars are a good source of food and a healthy snack because of their nutritional value for many animals.

Birds, smaller mammals like foxes and raccoons, rodents, insects such as ladybirds, wasps, and even other caterpillars like to eat caterpillars. As caterpillars don’t fight back and are pretty much defenceless, they make up for easy and effortless snacks. 

So, what predators do caterpillars have?

  • Birds like wrens, owls, pied flycatchers, robins, and woodcocks love eating caterpillars and are heavily reliant on them for food. 
  • Smaller mammals like raccoons and foxes eat caterpillars, and rodents like rats, mice, shrews, and voles eat caterpillars.
  • Insects like varying species of beetles like ladybird beetles and wasps like European wasps, common wasps, and Yellowjackets love eating caterpillars, and they feed them to their babies. Ichneumonid wasps lay eggs on caterpillars, and their babies eat the insect from within upon hatching.
  • Frogs, toads, newts, and other amphibians love eating caterpillars whenever one drops in the water.
  • When a caterpillar is very hungry and has no other options, it will eat other caterpillars.

One of the easiest and most natural ways to deter caterpillars is to encourage predators into your garden who will eat them up for you.


Caterpillars are one of the worst pests for any gardener. They can wipe out whole plants and cause a lot of damage. Only by repelling them can you remove their infestation.

Luckily, there are several scents of everyday household items used in the kitchen and scents of plants that can be natural pest repellents to remove a caterpillar infestation. 

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