Frank was reading an organic gardening supply magazine recently (as you do) and came across some information on how to deal with cabbage moths, a.k.a. Laura’s Nemeses.
There are sprays to kills the caterpillars, there is the strategy of picking the caterpillars off the plants, then there is the cleverer approach of catching and killing 😦 the moths even before they lay eggs. I really do want to keep the population of cabbage moth larvae down and catching the moths before they lay seems like the quickest, most efficient way to do it while avoiding damage to the rest of the environment (though, by design, devastating the poor cabbage moth population).
So I made myself a cabbage moth net. Not to be confused with a butterfly net. They really are the same thing but if I was going for butterflies I’d be wanting to catch and release so I’d be more careful to make sure I wasn’t using a material that would harm their wings. Honestly my net probably is butterfly safe but I’m never going to try it out. This is a purely seek-and-destroy net.
My simple design creates a cabbage moth net with a diameter of 90 cm (double what I’ve read a butterfly net normally is) and a length of 90 cm (a bit longer than your standard butterfly net). I cut it into a triangle – narrow at the bottom – to keep the net quite deep (because that’s what butterfly nets are) without having the weight of all that extra material.
Here’s my step-by-step guide for an insect net made from household junk:
1) Take a wire coat hanger and manipulate the triangle part into a big circle (this defined the diameter of my net).
2) Find some old sheer curtains (we have a box of them left over from when we bought the house – the prior owners liked filtered light so every window had sheers). If they’re too big, cut them down. I removed a lacy hem which I’ll save for some future project and then cut along an angle so that it is narrower at the bottom. Obviously if you don’t have sheers, find something light weight or buy some cheap netting.
3) Sew up a hem or just use the existing hem (or, since mine were curtains, the existing top pocket where the curtain rod used to go).
4) Thread the coat hanger through the hem.
5) Sew up the side and bottom of your net.
6) Attach the coat hanger to a dowel or any light stick with the hoop along the same plane as the handle. Use tape, string, wire, whatever you have lying around.
You can pretty it up with ribbon edging around the net, coloured tape along the handle, or whatever floats your boat. I was after efficiency and so gorgeous was not my aim. Besides, trying to beautify a tool which is designed to kill friendly little moths seemed a bit like putting a bow on the top of gallows to me.
Following these embarrassingly simple instructions yields a customised cabbage-moth-assasinator in about an hour (less if you use a sewing machine – I hand stitched in front of the TV).
It’s hard to be proud about this but I’ve done it and I think it is practical and sensible. I’ve already told Frank that wielding this net is his responsibility. He kills with a cold heart, I wince and shudder. I am pretty sure that before long I’ll be catching swathes of moths with no regrets just like I can now squash a cabbage moth larvae with ease. It’s almost scary how quickly I become immune to my queasiness over killing. The things we do in the name of a good meal *sigh*