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How to get rid of Cabbage worms? Read 5 Easy Ways

If you’ve ever grown cabbage, you’ve probably dealt with cabbage worms. These small worms can cause significant damage and should be killed as soon as you notice them in your garden. Cabbage worms are one of the most common garden pests. Every gardener has a problem with them! They can be sneaky, infuriating, and extremely damaging to plants. Still, Calm down! it’s not the end of the world if you get a few cabbage worms or cabbage loppers. Luckily, if you are wondering how to get rid of Cabbage worms, there are many simple ways to keep cabbage worms at bay while still reaping a beautiful, bountiful harvest!

So without any further ado, let’s find out simple ways to kill cabbage worms:

What is a cabbage worm?

Cabbage worms and “imported cabbageworms” are the same pest. They are the larvae of white butterflies. Adult cabbage white butterfly is also known as cabbage whites or small whites. The Latin names of cabbage worm are Pieris rapae, or Artogeia rapae. This is a common pest of cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and other cabbage vegetable family members. But wait, there’s more!

Cabbage worms have been discovered on a wide range of other plants in our garden, including flowers. They feed mostly on brassica plants. If you notice hokes in your leafy green plants, don’t be alarmed. Cabbage Plants can tolerate significant cabbage leaf loss without harm. But, plants will suffer true damage to their growth and yield during seedling establishment or early head formation.

How to get rid of Cabbage Worm
Cabbage Worm Feeding

Difference between cabbageworm and cabbage looper

Cabbage worms are larvae of small white butterflies, which can be seen flitting around gardens during the day. The white butterflies are frequently referred to as “cabbage whites” or “cabbage moths,” despite the fact that they are not moths at all. The cabbage looper, on the other hand, is a similar caterpillar that does indeed come from a brown nocturnal moth. Cabbage loopers are similar to butterfly cabbage worms, except that cabbage loopers are usually skinnier and move more like inchworms (humping along).

  • You can control Artogeia rapae and cabbage loopers in the same way.

Identifying If You Have Cabbage Worms

If you are thinking about how to get rid of cabbage worms you must know how to identify them. Cabbage worm or cabbage white caterpillar feed on cabbages and other cabbage family crops. However, they all are excellent at camouflage, and their larvae are extremely small and difficult to detect. But there are some ways by which you can detect Artogeia rapae (cabbageworm):

  • As their eggs are tiny, they are typically laid on the underside of the outer leaves. Worms will most likely be found in the same locations. On the underside of leaves, in the centre of the plant, and so on.
  • The Colour of their tiny eggs is whitish or yellowish. Also, they will be laid singly, not in groups.
  • When they become a problem, you’ll notice holes eaten through your plants, and an infestation can easily decimate a crop, leaving only the plant’s thick stems behind.
  • Frass, or faecal matter, on your plant is the simplest way to identify and combat a problem in its early stages.
  • It is important to inspect your crops on a regular basis, you’ll notice the frass before you notice any other signs of cabbage worms.

Types of cabbage worms

Cabbage worms mostly are of two types depending upon where you live. These pests are actually caterpillars in their various larval forms. Thus, both of these develop into different types:

Pieris rapae (Small White)

Adults have white wings with a small black dot on them. Since the adults are white, the larvae (worm) are called small white. These are the butterflies you see fluttering around your cabbage plants all summer. We used to call them cabbage diamondback moths, but they’re actually butterflies. This pest can be found in Europe, Asia, and South America. You can find them in Australia, New Zealand, and North America.

Worm feasting on a cabbage leaf.
Worm feasting on a cabbage leaf

Pieris brassicae (Large White)

The large white (Pieris brassicae) resembles the small white but is larger and has large black patches at the tips of the wings. It’s most common in Asia, Europe, and Africa. However, it was also unintentionally introduced to New Zealand and Australia. There have been sightings of it in the United States and South America, though it is not yet present widely.

Both damage the crops extensively. Luckily, you can get rid of them from common control methods.

How to get rid of cabbage worm?

Now that you know where these little pests come from, it’s time to learn how to get rid of them before they destroy your garden. There are several options for controlling or eliminating cabbage worms. Follow our guide and discover how to get rid of cabbage worms:

Bacillus Thuringiensis

If you see Artogeia rapae (cabbageworm) eggs, larvae, or their feces, it’s time to get rid of the worms immediately. The most widely used natural control method for broccoli worms is BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis). This bacteria, also known as BTK or BT, is naturally found in soil. Bacillus thuringiensis organic product will not harm your plants, but it will kill the caterpillars that feed on them. When they consume sprayed leaves, BTK enters their system. The caterpillar’s digestive system is then disrupted, causing it to die. Hence, applying BTK weekly to any cabbage family plants in my garden keeps caterpillars at bay.

Manual Removal of Cabbage White

Depending on how grossed you are by insects, handpicking can be a simple way to get rid of the cabbage white. The eggs, as previously stated, are tiny, oblong whitish or yellowish eggs. You should, however, only see single eggs. If you see a cluster of tiny, oblong white or yellow eggs together, they are more likely ladybug eggs, which you should not pull off or kill because they are a natural enemy of what you’re trying to eradicate.

Handpicking can be a good option if you only have a few plants. Every day, check the top and bottom of the leaves for eggs and caterpillars. Crush any eggs you find and remove the cabbage moth. You can also feed them to your chickens or drown them by using insecticidal soap.

Spraying with Neem Oil

Neem oil is a plant-based oil derived from the seeds of the neem tree. For organic pest control, you can dilute and mix concentrated neem oil before spraying it onto plants. Small soft-bodied insects such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and whiteflies respond well to neem oil. It can coat and kill cabbage pests or can interfere with their reproduction and feeding.

You can directly spray it on cabbage worms to eliminate them. Neem oil pest control can also be sprayed on cabbage plants to keep moths and butterflies away from laying eggs too. However, it is unlikely to completely solve your problem and should be used in conjunction with other methods.

Homemade Spray

Combine 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon of soap in a mixing bowl. The soap will aid in its adhesion to the leaves. Spray sparingly on the tops and bottoms of the leaves. To use this spray, make sure not to saturate the leaves and that your plants are not young small seedlings. In addition, I recommend testing it in a small area of the plant (just in case) and spraying it in the evenings rather than during the day (which can cause your cabbage plants to bake in the sun).

I’ve been using this spray for several years and have had no problems with it, but I only use it sparingly on mature plants in the evenings. It does contain vinegar, which is a natural herbicide (and excellent for weed control) to kill cabbage pests.

Catch The Adult Butterflies

Another effective method for removing broccoli worms is to capture adult cabbage white butterflies. Removing the adults from your garden prevents them from laying eggs on the undersides of the leaves, thereby increasing the population. Hanging a few yellow sticky traps is the simplest and cheapest way to catch adult cabbage white butterflies. These sticky traps are available in most stores; a box contains several sticky traps at affordable prices. The only disadvantage of this method is that you may also catch beneficial insects. To avoid harming your garden’s beneficial insect population, don’t leave them out for too long. Try sticky traps on Amazon.

How To Prevent Cabbage Worms?

Looking for how to get rid of cabbage worm? We know that controlling cabbageworm damage is difficult. Hence, the best course of action is to keep them out of your garden. Pest control is always easier than pest removal. Here are a few pointers to keep cabbage worms away from your plants:

Cover With Row Covers

Cover the seedlings with a row cover as soon as you plant them in the spring. This protects the seedlings from possible spring frosts and discourages adult cabbage white butterflies from laying eggs on the plants. An infestation will never begin if the butterflies are unable to lay eggs in your garden. You can use traditional hoop structures, also known as floating row covers, whether you have individual plants, raised beds, or sections in the ground. There are various types of floating row covers. Some help to keep insects out, while others provide frost protection or shade.

Release Trichogramma Wasps

Don’t be alarmed by the name “wasps,” because these insects are so small that they can’t sting humans. Trichogramma wasps parasitize cabbage worm eggs. You can order them online and release them into your garden at the appropriate time. It’s nearly impossible to find them in a garden nursery center. The company from which you order these should be able to assist you in understanding proper timing. Wasp parasites lay their eggs inside or on top of other arthropods, including caterpillars. As the cabbage worms die when fungus gnat larvae feed on the host caterpillar, these wasps are an excellent tool against them.

Utilize Companion Planting

Believe it or not, every gardener’s best friend is companion planting. There are a few plants that can deter cabbage moths and other pests from making your plants home for their young. Marigolds, thyme, dill, and other cabbage companion plants can help discourage moths from laying eggs. However, none of these will completely repel the butterflies. We still have worms despite having marigolds all around our cabbages.

Another option is to grow mustard next to your cabbage plants. Mustard attracts cabbage butterflies and makes an excellent trap for catching them. When you’re finished, simply remove the plant.

Plant Red And Purple Leafed Varieties Of Cabbage

Planting red and purple leaf cabbage varieties makes it more difficult for worms to hide. A green caterpillar is difficult to spot on a left green plant, but it is much easier to spot on a purple cabbage leaf. Pests understand this because they’re looking for places to hide, so they’re less likely to pick those plants.

Another reason pests appear to be less attracted to purple and red-colored vegetables is that they contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant-rich flavonoid. It contributes to the health benefits of red, purple, and blue-pigmented vegetables. Anthocyanin is mildly toxic to caterpillars and may also deter larger pests.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s much easier than you might think to protect your brassicas from cabbage worms. Once you realize that you have cabbage worm problems, your first thought must be how to get rid of cabbage worms. You can avoid the problem entirely by covering your crops. If your garden is heavily infested with cabbage worms and it’s time to harvest, don’t be concerned as these caterpillars are harmless. Additionally, removing the eggs and larvae will prevent future generations from growing on and eating your garden. Always look for anything suspicious on the undersides of the leaves and take the necessary precautions.

FAQs

How do you get rid of cabbage worms naturally?

Cabbage worms are one of the most common garden pests. Every gardener has a problem with them as they are extremely damaging to plants. If you are wondering how to get rid of cabbage worms? Don’t worry there are some natural ways such as the use of BT, manual removal, floating row covers, plant Purple and red varieties, beneficial insects, and the use of Polyculture & Companion Planting.

How do I keep cabbage worms out of my garden?

Are you thinking about how to get rid of cabbage worms? But didn’t find any easy method. Hold on! We have the easiest method called the BT method for you to keep your garden cabbage worms free. Products with bacillus thuringiensis will not harm your plants, but they will kill the caterpillars that feed on them. Homemade spray can also play an effective role in eliminating cabbage looper. Cover the seedlings with a row cover as soon as you plant them in the spring. It will also help to get rid of cabbage worms.

There are other methods too such as handpicking, using neem oil for plants, and catching the adult flies. These methods are also very popular and effective in preventing cabbage looper.

How do you kill cabbage worms?

You must be wondering how to get rid of cabbage worms. Here is the solution. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) spraying every 1 to 2 weeks will aid in the control of cabbage family pests. Sevin is also effective. Furthermore, the few pests that remain on the vegetables after harvest can be washed away with water and a small amount of detergent or other surfactants. Also, there are some natural ways such as the use of BT, manual removal, floating row covers, plant Purple and red varieties that can help you get rid of cabbage looper.

How do I get rid of green worms in my garden?

If you are wondering how to get rid of cabbage worms. You can use the homemade spray as it can kill moths easily. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon of soap in a mixing bowl. The soap will aid in its adhesion to the leaves. Spray sparingly on the tops and bottoms of the leaves. To use this spray, make sure not to saturate the leaves and that your plants aren’t young small seedlings. The homemade spray will help a lot in eliminating pests from your garden.

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I am a graduate in Agriculture Sciences and have been doing gardening for over 7 years. I am also a professional and certified Article & Blog Writer. I am happy to share my years of experience in gardening with all of you through my writings. In addition to this, I do extensive research on every topic to enrich readers with valuable knowledge.