What is Eating My Cabbage Plants
Yesterday, I received a question in my Facebook inbox that included pictures. It is an excellent question too. What is eating my cabbage plants?
Anytime, I receive a question on Facebook I try and answer it to the best of my ability.
If you are finding that any of your cabbage, swede, kale, brussel sprouts etc. plant leaves are becoming full of holes throughout the summer there are a few garden pest you will need to rid yourself of.
Can you see the caterpillar under the leave in the second picture? See the eggs under the leaf in the first? Both of them are connected.
There are two culprits that I know of that will eat through leaves like this. Both are pretty similar when you see pictures of the caterpillar worms online.
1.) Cabbage White Butterfly
The pest you might be looking for is the cabbage white butterfly. The butterfly comes into the garden and looks for fresh, hearty leaves to lay it’s eggs on. As the eggs mature, they become caterpillars that eat all your leaves.
Cabbage White Caterpillar
Pictured above is what the caterpillars hatch from eggs to look like. You will note they do look a lot like the cabbage loopers you will see below.
2.) Cabbage Looper Moth
Cabbage Looper Caterpillar
The caterpillar, a measuring worm, is smooth and pale green with white stripes and is one of many species called cabbage worm.
It is called a “looper” because it arches its body as it crawls, inchworm-style. This species is very destructive to plants due to its voracious consumption of leaves.
It is not restricted to cole crops; other plant hosts include tomato, cucumber, collard greens, and potato.
How to Control These Pests
Since you are here – you already have these pests and are looking for a way to control them. I will start here.
1.) Good news for you! One product will control your garden pests, so you do not need to really know which one you have above.
All caterpillars, can be controlled with the non-chemical biological control called b.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis), often sold as Dipel or Thuricide.
You can get the product in spray or garden dust. Can be used on all plants.
2.) Some people take to the garden and pick each and every caterpillar off their plants. This takes time and dedication. It works for a small infestation.
I suggest using a pail and drown them in soapy water.
3.) What really works well for me is to place Lightweight Row Covers over my plants in the spring. If you click on the highlighted text, those are what I use.
This will keep the butterflies and moths from landing on your plants. Keeping unwanted insects out and they help with shading and cooling in the summer.The row covers allow 85% light transmission in and will give you frost protection down to 28 degrees F/-2 degrees C.
4.) Plant marigolds around your garden. My great-grandfather swore by planting marigolds around his garden. He said that the flowers attract “good” insects to your garden. This keeps the “bad” ones at bay. That man could grow anything!
If I have too – I will do a ritual dance to 🙂 That is all the help I can give you on the subject. Hope this helps!