Butterfly Netting Guide
Our butterfly netting guide shows how we used butterfly netting to grow winter cabbage. We wanted to see if butterfly netting really made a difference to crop success. What we found is that our crop grew faster, bigger, and looked healthier than the unprotected cabbage we had grown in previous years.
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Butterfly netting provides protection for crops often eaten by caterpillars. The mesh size of butterfly netting is too small for butterflies to enter and lay their eggs on the crops.
Growing Using Butterfly Netting
Please see our video, or if you prefer, continue reading below:
The butterfly netting we used was a strong, non-stretchy netting suitable for using on frames and fruit cages, or draped over hoops or canes. It is often more expensive to purchase than anti-bird netting, due to higher UV resistance and a thicker more closely spaced mesh. The mesh size on the butterfly net we used was 7mm square, compared to 20mm square on a normal type of garden net.
If growing crops susceptible to being eaten by caterpillars, using bird netting is not a good alternative as butterflies are able to pass through the net. Insect netting with its very fine mesh is an alternative, but can be more expensive to buy. A cheaper alternative is debris netting that also has a fine mesh. However, debris netting can be difficult to purchase in sufficient widths to cover taller plants, blocks more light, and may lack UV resistance meaning that it will degrade faster in sunlight. See debris netting on Amazon UK.
Whatever structure is used to support butterfly netting, it is important to securely peg or weigh down the bottom of the net to ensure that there are no gaps. The picture shows what can happen when a plant is attacked.
It is worth checking regularly that the net remains free from touching any leaves. It is possible for butterflies to lay their eggs through the net if the plants are touching the netting.
Compared to previous years, we found that using the butterfly netting resulted in our plants looking healthier and growing faster. Although the net needs to be secure, we found it useful to be easily able to lift the net to hoe around the plants.
We left our net in place for the whole of the growth cycle. The final outcome was a much healthier crop of cabbage, appreciably bigger than in previous years and with a much less damaged appearance.