Organic vs non-organic

There are misunderstandings about organic plants. For the safety and life of caterpillars, let’s explain.

Organic means ‘of natural origin’. It does NOT mean pesticide/insecticide free. Organic pesticides are as deadly as inorganic pesticides. As an example, it doesn’t matter if I eat lead, water hemlock, or arsenic. Although I can be killed by all three, one of them is 100% organic – water hemlock, the deadliest plant around.

Water Hemlock (Host for Black Swallowtail)

Water Hemlock
(Host for Black Swallowtail)

Organic simply means that everything used on the plant is of organic origin. There are many organic pesticides. One of the most popular is Bt, a natural soil-dwelling bacteria that is deadly to caterpillars. It is used on cabbage, beans, and many other vegetables and plants.

Monarch caterpillar killed by organic pesticide

Monarch caterpillar killed by organic pesticide

When we are checking to see if a plant is safe for caterpillars, we shouldn’t ask if it is organic. We should ask about pesticides in general, organic OR inorganic in nature. If you save me from iron poisoning, it won’t make a bit of difference if you feed me water hemlock instead.

We are not saying that organic isn’t wonderful. We are simply saying that it can be totally deadly to caterpillars, used on plants for the express purpose of killing caterpillars.

The restrictions and guidelines for ‘certified organic’ plants are set to ensure safety for humans, not for caterpillar safety.

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