Eliminating Cabbage Worms and Cabbage Loopers26 Oct, 2020
Cabbage Worms and Cabbage Loopers are two common pests to fall Cruciferous crops which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and leafy greens like kale and collard greens. Cabbage Worms are the larvae of a small white butterfly, while Cabbage Loopers are caterpillars of a brown colored moth. In their beginning stages, Cabbage Worms and Loopers can look quite similar to one another. Both are small green worm-like pests. One way to differentiate them is that Cabbage Loopers are more yellow-green and slink up and down when they move rather than crawling straight like the Cabbage Worms.
At the Jewel of Encanto Farm, our broccoli and cauliflower (to a smaller extent) transplants have been inflicted with Cabbage Loopers. The Cabbage Loopers and the Cabbage Worms eat holes in the crop’s leaves, if the problem is left untreated, these pests can completely eat the leaves down to the vein and eat the heads of the crops as well. This can completely devastate the crop’s ability to grow and makes the heads of the crops unusable. The key to stopping Cabbage Worms and Loopers is to catch the infestation early and thoroughly eliminate the pests when they are small.
If you have a small garden and only a few Cruciferous crops, it can be easy enough to simply pull the pests off of the leaves and either squish them or drown them in soapy water. This can also help you determine the extent of the infestation in order to determine the best form of pest management for your garden. There are several ways to kill these pests including manual removal, BT spray, neem oil, and a vinegar solution spray. Preventative measures include destroying the eggs on the undersides of the leaves, adding row covers for protection, or companion planting with strongly scented plants like mint or chamomile.
At the farm, we first removed the Cabbage Loopers manually by taking them from the back of the plant’s leaves and squishing them. The next treatment was to spray the plants with a vinegar solution. It was one part vinegar, three parts water with a few drops of soap which helps adhere the solution to the plant leaves. It is important to continue to monitor your Cruciferous crops for the infestation spreading to different crops or different areas of your garden.
Keep an eye out for Cabbage Worms and Loopers in your fall garden!