The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

May 3, 2013

Ask A Master Gardener


TARBORO — Ben B. (Tarboro) Asks: Is the Cooperative Extension Center planning a workshop about rain barrel irrigation?  I hear it’s a great way to keep a ready supply of free water for the garden and I think there are a lot of folks in this area that would want to learn more about it.

Answer: Yes, there’s a Rain Barrel Workshop this Saturday morning at 10 at Marrow-Pitt Hardware’s Lawn & Garden Center (1713 N. Main St, Tarboro).  Expert Ken Cheston will demonstrate a device he has designed and tell you all you want to know about the advantages of collecting and storing rainwater for irrigation. Tarboro’s America in Bloom committee has joined Marrow Pitt in sponsoring the workshop.

Those of you who have already discovered the advantages of rain barrel irrigation know that you could have hundreds of gallons of free water simply by collecting it.

By collecting and storing this rainwater in a rain barrel, we can benefit by having a source of free irrigation water for home gardens during times of drought. During even a short rain shower that produces one inch of rain, a 1,000-square-foot roof yields 625 gallons of water. This water can be invaluable during the hot and dry summer months.

Also, this stored rain water doesn’t contain chlorine, lime, or calcium. A rain barrel helps direct moisture away from building foundations. Storing rain water also helps to reduce the amount of pollution running into our estuaries and ponds in the form of storm water runoff.

Lynn B. (Tarboro) Asks – I have a lot of inchworms nibbling on my knockout roses and chewing holes on my cherry tree foliage. How can I prevent this?

Answer - Inchworms are not actually worms, but moth larvae--better known as caterpillars. Inchworms are indeed pests in the garden because they eat plant leaves, especially vegetable plants. They also infest trees and eat their leaves, sometimes causing serious and irreversible damage. Many types of caterpillars are referred to as inchworms, including the cankerworm. Inchworms typically appear in either the spring or fall.  Here are some suggestions from  

Step 1-Encourage wasps and birds in your garden because they prey upon inchworms. Grow plants such as Queen Anne's lace, sunflowers and parsley to attract wasps. Install a bird feeder in your garden or hang birdhouses in nearby trees or on poles.

Step 2-Wrap a sticky band around your nearby trees. Moths climb up trees to mate and lay eggs--which will hatch into inchworms--so a sticky band will catch and kill them on their way. These bands are available at most garden centers. These are best applied in either early fall or early spring, about a month or two before you typically see inchworms in the garden.

Step 3-Apply a pesticide that contains the active bacterial ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), var. kurstaki to your garden. Other varieties of Bt do not control caterpillars. Follow the label instructions for proper application and frequency. It is best to use Bt soon after the inchworms hatch, usually in the spring or fall. Inchworms are small enough, however, that Bt will be effective even as they age.

Another “best answer” from Squashing them one by one seems too cruel so try these remedies!!

- Mix up a mild detergent solution, like Dawn or Palmolive. Spray that on them; it will kill them quickly and without hazard. Or you could purchase any of the Safer Brand Insecticide Soap products to get rid of them.  It will not harm the plants.  

- Those are best killed with Pyrethum Butoxide or a similar nervous system acting insecticide.
Pyrethum is found in everyday house insect control spray in those gallon jugs sold at most garden supply stores.  The Pyrethum attacks their central nervous system and kills the insect. What you can do is buy a pint of the pure stuff and put it in your garden spray and spray the front of the house that faces the sun’s rays. The Pyrethum will last on the brick or siding surfaces for about 4 to 5 days and will kill those insects when they climb around the surface.

Read more: How to Get Rid of Inch Worms in the Garden | Garden Guides

Read more: How to Get Rid of Inch Worms in the Garden | Garden Guides


“Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.  

Submit your questions by email to  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.