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Calendula – 0 Caterpillars – 1


All I have left from my calendula harvest this year is caterpillar poop. And some golden calendula flower oil, probably with a caterpillar or two in it. For all the flowers I picked, all the times I tried to meticulously remove caterpillars, and all the ways I tried to harvest and dry them, not a one remains.

My work room was invaded with caterpillars that crawled out of my harvesting baskets. For weeks (months?) on end, I found about 4 worms daily, tons of excrement, about 6 cocoons, and only one moth (thank goodness). In the end, I dumped all my harvest over the fence.

Next year, I will either find a way to deal with the bugs, or just admire my calendula when I am at the garden, and not attempt to harvest it.

So, instead of putting my garden-grown yellow and orange calendula blossoms into my favorite lymph cleansing teas, healing salves, and herbal facial steams, I have these photos look at. And when push comes to shove, it’s not that difficult to order some high quality organic calendula by the pound from Mountain Rose.

Filed under: Herbalism


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Just came across your blog today and was thrilled because I’ve been starting my own journey in herbalism this past year…I also waged a mighty war against caterpillars in my calendula harvest this summer and it was terribly frustrating. I had to check the drying flowers daily and scan them for minute movements in order to find the stowaways and deal with them. Overall it was a success, but I’m not sure what I can do next year to prevent it to begin with. Row cover is the only thing I can think of, as I refuse to use any kind of pesticide (even organic ones) on our herbs.

  2. celia says

    Thanks for the encouragement about daily bug-picking on the calendula, I didn’t do that because I didn’t know what was going on until it was too late. Where I lived before it was never a problem! It is almost 6 month since I started harvesting calendula, and I am still finding caterpillar residue in my house. Maybe I’ll resort to lots of tinctures and oil infusions…

    I am completely with you about pesticides, it is just not worth it. I am glad you stopped by my blog, and I wish you all the best in your herbal journey, wherever it takes you!

  3. Tonni says

    I work in the herbal medicine industry.
    I do some production, and some pest control.
    The only two ways I know off, that will help your caterpillar issue are:
    1. Bag the flowers and freeze them for a few days.
    2. Place the flowers in an airtight container, and fill it with carbon-dioxide, then leave the container closed for at least a month.

    Good luck

  4. Your mum sounds like she did a fatisatnc job to bring up all those (you) kids. I applaud the women of our previous generation as we all seemed to grow up so normal and remember our childhood filled with love and fun. I hope my kids remember that of me. I really wanted to say (in capitals .. so pretend I am standing on the rooftop yelling out loud) I LOVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS. All of them. You are so talented. I just love them. If I send an umbrella over will you take a nice piccie for me??? (oh, and kyneton is a fair way away – but wallington is in the same state (-:). Have a lovely day

  5. celia says

    Hi Celeste, thanks so much! I appreciate folks like you stopping by. And tell me more about this umbrella 😉

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