How Do You Deal With Cabbage Worms?

Written by: Lars Nyman

How Do You Deal With Cabbage Worms?

Cabbage Worms

Gardening can be a rewarding and fun activity, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most difficult issues that gardeners must deal with are cabbage worms. cabbage worms are the larvae of moths and butterflies like the cabbage looper, diamondback moth, and imported cabbageworm. these voracious feeders can wreak havoc on your garden, causing damage to not just cabbage and kale, but also related crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. in this article, we'll explore the best methods for dealing with cabbage worms, including prevention, removal, and treatment.

Cabbage Worms Cheatsheet

Preventive Measures

  • Plant worm-resistant cabbage varieties 🌱
  • Use floating row covers to protect plants πŸ›‘οΈ
  • Apply diatomaceous earth around cabbage beds 🌍

Natural Predators

  • Encourage birds, ladybugs, and lacewings 🐦🐞
  • Attract parasitic wasps with flowering plants 🌼
  • Introduce nematodes to target cabbage worms 🦠

Organic Sprays

  • Create a DIY neem oil spray for effective control 🌿
  • Mix garlic oil with water for a natural repellent πŸ§„
  • Apply Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) to target caterpillars πŸ¦‹

Tips for Removal

  • Handpick cabbage worms and drop in soapy water πŸͺ΄
  • Crush egg masses found on the underside of leaves πŸ₯š
  • Perform regular plant inspections for early detection πŸ”

Interesting Facts

  • A single cabbage worm can consume up to 125 square inches of cabbage leaves per day! 😱
  • Cabbage worms are the larval stage of cabbage white butterflies πŸ¦‹
  • Vitamin C-rich cabbage boosts immune function and collagen production πŸ’ͺ
Cabbage Worms

Years of gardening have taught me plenty about pests, but one creature that stands out in my mind's eye is the cabbage worm. The consuming green menace is a well-known tormentor of cabbage patches, leaving holes and wilting leaves in its wake.

Identifying Cabbage Worms

First things first, you need to know what you're dealing with. Cabbage worms aren't your run-of-the-to-mill green caterpillar. These creatures are small, velvety, and gray-green. They might look cute, but don't be deceived! These worms rapidly progress from hatchlings to full grown larvae in just a week, feasting on your precious cabbages all the while.

"A gardener who can identify a pest early has already won half the battle."

Preventing Cabbage Worms

Like most things in life, prevention is better than cure. Use floating row covers over your cabbage patch as a physical barrier against cabbage worm butterflies. These butterflies won't be able to get to your cabbages to lay eggs, effectively interrupting the life cycle of the worm.

Companion Planting

Another prevention technique is companion planting. Planting thyme and tomatoes around your cabbages can deter cabbage worms. Thyme serves as a repellent while tomatoes offer a toxic environment for these pests.

Eliminating Infestations

If prevention comes a little too late and you're already dealing with an infestation, don't panic. There are still solutions.

  1. Manual removal: The most low-tech method is to physically remove the worms. It's time consuming and not 100% effective, but it can help.
  2. Bacterial pesticide: Bacillus thuringiensis, known as BT, is a safe and organic remedy. When the worm eats BT-coated leaves, it stops eating and eventually dies.
  3. Beneficial insects: Introducing predators, like ladybugs and lacewings, can be a game changer in your efforts to eradicate cabbage worms.

Maintaining Your Cabbage Patch

Maintenance plays a vital part in keeping cabbage worms at bay. Regularly inspect your cabbages for holes and discolored leaves. Remove any damaged leaves to stop the spread of any possible infestation.

Remember: The fight against cabbage worms is more a marathon than a sprint. With a healthy dose of vigilance, and armed with the right knowledge, it's a battle we as gardeners can win. Just keep your eyes open, your cabbages will thank you!


What are cabbage worms?

Cabbage worms are common pests that attack cabbage plants.

How do cabbage worms damage plants?

Cabbage worms feed on cabbage leaves, causing extensive damage by eating through them.

What does a cabbage worm look like?

Cabbage worms are green caterpillars with velvety bodies and smooth, hairless skin.

How can I identify cabbage worms on my plants?

Look for green worms on the undersides of cabbage leaves or inspect for irregular holes in the foliage.

What is the lifecycle of a cabbage worm?

Cabbage worms go through a complete metamorphosis, starting as eggs laid on cabbage plants, then hatching into larvae (caterpillars), pupating, and finally emerging as adult white or yellow butterflies.

How can I prevent cabbage worms?

Implement protective measures like covering plants with row covers or applying organic insecticides like Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

Are there any natural predators of cabbage worms?

Yes, birds, spiders, and parasitic wasps are natural enemies of cabbage worms and can help control their population.

How do I treat cabbage worms if I find them on my plants?

Handpick cabbage worms from your plants or use organic insecticides to eliminate them.

Cabbage worms can be a nuisance for gardeners, but they’re an easy problem to prevent or control. So, take the necessary steps to make sure your garden is inviting to beneficial insects, and if all else fails, you can always pick up some organic insecticide. Remember, every garden has its challenges, so don’t give up and happy gardening!

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