Imported cabbage worms can wreak havoc on the vegetable garden, especially collards, cabbage, radish, kohlrabi, rutabaga, mustard greens, broccoli, and other members of the broccoli family. If left untreated, they can consume the leaves, stems, and even flower buds of all members of this plant family. Fortunately, controlling the cabbage worm is not difficult if you arm yourself with the information you need to deal with these common garden pests.
What is the cabbage worm?
Called the technically imported cabbageworm, this pest is native to Europe. It is now found throughout much of North America, and its rapid life cycle produces several generations per year. Adult cabbageworm butterflies (they are not moths) are also called cabbage white or small white. They are common in backyards and gardens in the summer, including mine. White butterflies have a wingspan of one to one and a half inches. Females have two black spots on each front wing. There is only one place for men.
Larvae cabbage worms are not really worms; They are caterpillars. Like another common insect called cabbage loopers, they are difficult to spot when they are young because they often wander around the base of leaves or leaf veins, which help cover them. As the caterpillars grow, they turn soft, velvety green and form a pale yellow band in the center of their backs. There are many species of caterpillars that eat plants belonging to the same family, but cabbage worms are easier to identify if you look for the yellow bark.
Preferred cabbage worm host plants
Female imported cabbageworm butterflies lay eggs individually on members of the mustard family (also known as cabbage family, broccoli, or cole crops). Some of their favorites include cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Symptoms of cabbage worm damage include holes in the leaves or flower stalks (often similar to broccoli), skeletal leaves, and their dark green, rounded, flaky stools, called frost. If you notice signs of this type of damage to your cole crops, here are some organic control methods for cabbage caterpillars.
Biological controls for cabbageworm management
First, before you take up arms against green worms on your cabbage or broccoli plants, you need to realize that they are an important and valuable food source for many organisms, including birds and many predatory beneficial insects. I like to sit and watch the house rents and cicadas bouncing off the tops of my broccoli plants every morning. They pluck the young cabbage worms and fly back to the nest to feed the chicks. One of my favorite books is Doctor. According to Doug Ptolemy's Bringing Nature Home, it takes up to 9000 caterpillars for each of the chicks to reach the developing stage. Encourage birds to live in your vegetable garden by placing nesting boxes and eliminating the use of harmful synthetic pesticides that end up in the food chain.
Beneficial pests to control cabbage pests
Cabbage worm caterpillars are a food source for many beneficial pests that are excellent helpers in the garden. Pests like to catch the adults in my garden in the middle of the plane (see photo above) and admire them for lunch. Paper wasps fly back and forth throughout the day between their tree nest and garden, carrying pieces of caterpillar to feed on their larvae. (Yes, paper wasps are great for the garden!). Also, I often spy on spine bug bugs and kill pests that benefit from admiring the cabbage worms in my garden. In addition, there are different types of parasitic wasps that help manage these and other insect caterpillars.
Spiders Cabbage worm is another beneficial organism that enjoys caterpillars. Predatory or cursive spiders, such as jumping spiders and wolf spiders, roam the garden at night. They climb on plants in search of their prey. Going to the garden at night with a flashlight in search of these amazing creatures makes mew