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Insects such as the cabbage white butterfly and carrot fly can ruin entire crops if left to their own devices, in some cases birds can do the same. Chemicals can be used to kill insects but they are never as effective as a physical barrier such as insect mesh. 

Not only is insect mesh very effective but it is totally chemical free and does not damage beneficial insects.

We list below the various options you have when using a physical barrier against insects and birds. This article is aimed at protection of vegetables, if you are considering protection of larger plants and fruit trees then our article on fruit cages may be more applicable.


This type of protection is specifically designed to prevent insects and birds getting at your crops. It is normally sold as the standard type and a fine type. The difference between the two is that the standard type will not protect against against flea beetle and it will not provide 100% protection against thrips and leaf miners. The fine type however will protect against all insects but it does cost more. So, work out what type of protection you need before purchasing.

Good quality standard meshes are manufactured from polythene and the holes will be about 1.3mm wide. Fine meshes will have holes about 0.8mm wide. Before reading about the products from specific manufacturers below consider the following points which will influence your choice of insect netting:

  • Price, including postage and packing.
  • Expected life span, cheap netting may not be the most economical in the long run.
  • The amount of light can get through the mesh. Plants need sunlight to grow and different netting lets through different amounts of light.
  • Weight of the mesh is important especially if you plan to lay it on your plants without any support.
  • Reputation of the manufacturer / supplier. If you are buying mesh through a general retailer you may not be told who the manufacturer is. Without that information the quality of the product may not be all that you expect.

For the purposes of price and quality comparison all the prices quoted below are for standard type mesh netting supplied in a 2m width and are for a one metre length.


Click here for their website.
Enviromesh have been manufacturing insect mesh for the UK as far back as 1991 and are the most quoted and respected name as far as the amateur gardener is concerned. Their website is informative and contains all the contact details and information expected of a reputable company.

COST is £2.90 per metre, postage and packing is £2.50 to the UK mainland.
This is a top quality product with an expected life of more than ten years. Weight is good at 55g per square metre. It allows 90% of light to pass through and has an air passage rate of 75%. Protects against most insects, birds, snails and offer some slug protection.

They supply netting in a range of widths including lengths of 20m / 50m and 100m. Finer and lighter meshes are also available.


Click here for their website.
Veggiemesh is sold but not manufactured by Gardening-Naturally. The origins of the mesh are not stated. This is a general purpose gardening website selling a large variety of products. Contact details and a telephone number are available on their website but further details are lacking.

COST is £2.66 per metre, postage and packing is £3.25 to the UK mainland.
No claims are made on the website concerning how long the product is expected to last which is a concern. Weight is good at 55g per square metre. It allows 90% of light to pass through and has an air passage rate of 75%. Protects against most insects, birds, snails and offer some slug protection.

Mesh netting is available in a large choice of sizes.


Click here for their website.
William James and Co have been trading from 1954 so they are a name you can trust. They manufacture their own insect mesh netting.

COST is £2.40 per metre, postage and packing is £5.95 to the UK mainland.
The website has very few specific details concerning the quality of the product and no claims are made for how long it might be expected to last for.

Mesh netting is available in a large choice of sizes.


Click here for their website.
Wondermesh have been selling insect mesh netting from 2004 in the UK. They aim their products at large allotment users and farms so may not be suitable for the average UK gardener. The website is comprehensive and contains full contact details.

COST - No direct comparison available by the metre.
This is a quality product with a claimed lifespan in excess of ten years. Light transfer is an excellent 90% although air passage rate is not quoted on the site. Weight is slightly higher than the best at 65g per square metre. Protects against most insects, birds, snails and offer some slug protection.

The mesh netting is not supplied by the metre, it can only be ordered in certain widths and long lengths.


If you plan to buy insect mesh netting then based on cost, reputation and recommendations we would buy Environmesh. It has a long established reputation of quality and long life.


Cheaper alternatives to dedicated insect mesh netting are available but they all have disadvantages in one or more areas. The alternatives are:
  • Horticultural Fleece - expected life is short, it tears easily and is liable to blow away. Not recommended by us
  • Net curtains - brand new net curtains are probably not worth the expense but second hand ones definitely are. Ask your local charity shops to save old ones for you and buy them for next to nothing. Weight varies significantly so you will probably need to provide support over most veg for best results.
  • Scaffold debris mesh - this is recommended as a cheap alternative by many gardeners nowadays. Cost is less than half that of normal insect netting. Its weight means that it is best supported and light transmission is not as good as normal netting but air passage is fine and watering through it is not a problem.
  • Butterfly netting - if all you require is protection against butterflies (Cabbage White Butterfly included) butterfly netting is a very effective cheap method (about half the cost of mesh) of protection. It has a long life but will not protect your crops from smaller insects.
    One tip worth noting with butterfly netting is to support it well away from the leaves. Although the butterflies won't be able to get in they can lay eggs on leaves which touch the netting.


The key point to remember with insect barriers, mesh netting or otherwise, is to ensure that they cover the whole crop from top to bottom. Insects, even butterflies, will find any gap however small. The most common point of entry is where the mesh rests on the ground. If the mesh is wide enough the edges which touch the ground can be buried in soil but this makes removing the netting, for weeding etc., time consuming.

Various pegs are sold to hold the netting bin place on the ground but the best method is thin planks of wood laid onto flat ground, bricks also work well if you have enough of them