how to control cabbage worms, controlling cabbage worms

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cabbage worm near finger in control cabbage wormsCabbage worms are the caterpillars or larvae of the White Cabbage butterfly, they feed on all kinds of brassicas like cabbage, kale,brussels sprouts and so on.


what are cabbage worms?







If you see white butterflies in your garden with a wingspan of about 2 inches and 2 black spots per wing, you’ll have to start checking for eggs or control cabbage worms.

The butterflies will lay their eggs on the leaves, mostly on the underside. Once the worms develop, they will totally devour the leaves of the plants, possibly killing off the plants or at least stunting them for quite a while. The caterpillars are as green as the leaves themselves so in the beginning, it’s quite difficult to spot them.

There are several ways you can treat your plants, or the worms themselves to get rid of the infestation.

Hand picking

cabbage worm 2 in control cabbage worms

I control cabbage worms by using the handpicking method because I don’t have too many plants. I can imagine if you have 20 or more plants that this will become a tedious job. If you still want to do it, it’s best to do it quite early in the morning, when the cabbage worm starts to eat and you can find them on top of the leaves.

Use cornmeal to control cabbage worms

You can dust the plants with cornmeal when the leaves are damp and a little bit sticky. When the caterpillars eat the cornmeal, they’ll bloat and die.

Netting or fleece cover

Netting or fleece cover is another obvious choice. By building a barrier between the plants and the butterflies, there’s no way the butterflies can lay eggs on the leaves. Some points to take in consideration are the following. Make sure when you place any kind of netting or another barrier, the butterflies can’t get through or underneath the barrier. When using netting, for instance, it’s best to bury the ends in the soil so there are no gaps they can get through. Of course, it’s necessary to check if there are no big holes in the barrier you use. Also, make sure the plants have enough space to grow out without getting stressed or restricted.


caterpillar on kale leaf in control cabbage wormsIntercropping is another method I use to control cabbage worms as well. I tend to use a kind of adapted square foot gardening. That way my brassicas are hidden between the other plants I grow and it’s more difficult for the butterfly to find a good spot to put the eggs. There are even several scientific tests that show what plants you can use as companion plants to avoid the caterpillars as much as possible.

Attract beneficial insects and birds

 There are several ways to attract beneficial insects and birds to your backyard garden. Using these methods can be a really good way to keep the pests at bay without the need for insecticides or dangerous methods.
One of the ways to attract beneficial insects is by not using insecticide at all. If the beneficial insects get the chance to set foot in your garden, they’re more likely to sustain if you don’t kill off half of their population by trying to kill the pests.

Bacillus Thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis or BT is a bacterial product that kills of caterpillars. It’s been used for many years now and it’s considered safe for the environment and humans. BT is, in fact, a bacterium that already lives in the soil. The product just has a concentration far higher than what can be found in the soil.

Creative solution to control cabbage worms

I just had to write this one down as I found it in a blog post and it was quite a creative way to deal with the source of the problem, the butterfly itself.

Take a badminton racket and hit the butterflies to kingdom come. That way, you won’t have to deal with the worms themselves.

If you have other ways to deal with the problem, please let me know through the comment section.

So this is it for this blog post, I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share with friends and other gardeners. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.

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