How To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms

Milosh Potikj | April 02, 2023 | 7 MIN READ

Dealing with cabbage worms can be a frustrating challenge for gardeners looking to protect their precious cabbage plants. These voracious pests, which are actually the larvae of white butterflies or moths, can quickly decimate a cabbage patch if left unchecked. However, there are effective methods to get rid of cabbage worms and safeguard your plants.

What Are Cabbage Worms?

Cabbage worms are one of many common garden pests that can wreak havoc in home gardens. Known scientifically as Pieris rapae, these small green larvae are the larval stage of adult butterflies known as small whites or cabbage whites.

Cabbage worms love plants from the brassica family, including nutrient-rich favorites such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and of course, cabbage. Unfortunately, these destructive pests can feed on any season and their presence can inflict serious damage to plants with newly forming heads or seedlings.

How To Identify Cabbage Worms

Cabbage worms can be a real nuisance in the garden, but fortunately they are relatively easy to identify. Cabbage worms are very small butterflies that have small yellow stripes and look much like their cousin, the cabbage looper.

However, the primary way to tell them apart is that while loopers move by raising and lowering themselves with their center legs, cabbage worms do not make this same motion. This means that you can watch for this movement to determine which type of pest your plants may have been invaded by.

In addition to these visual markers, other signs of cabbage worm presence include eggs or larvae from other types of pests like zebra caterpillars or diamondback moths, as well as noticeable feces left behind after feeding.

These common indications will help you identify if cabbage worms have made their home in your garden and work out a strategy for removal and prevention against future infestations.

How To Prevent Cabbage Worms In The First Place

Preventing cabbage worms in your garden is a great way to save yourself time and effort when dealing with the treatment of an infestation. One way of preventing their presence is by using row covers such as fabric sheets or screens, which will create a physical barrier between the butterflies and your plants so they can’t lay their eggs on them.

This technique should still be used with caution as you do need to provide pollinators access to your plants at some point if necessary.

Companion planting is also an effective method to discourage cabbage worms from attacking vulnerable plants in the garden. Plant thyme around the perimeter which can act as both a natural repellent for moths and serve as a type of companion plant that will benefit other neighboring plants and attract helpful insects, like certain predators of these green worms.

“Trap crops” are also useful in this regard as they act as a distraction for the worms, drawing them away from crops you wish to prioritize over others.

How To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms In The Garden

Occasionally, a pest infestation can be beyond your control, influenced by factors such as weather, location, season, and sheer luck. If your preventive measures fail to keep cabbage worms at bay, fret not. We're here to guide you on effectively eliminating these pests from your plants!

Manually Remove Cabbage Worms

Manually removing cabbage worms and their eggs from your garden plants is one of the most effective techniques to quickly get rid of an infestation. Vigilance is key here—checking your plants on a daily basis to spot any larvae or eggs can go a long way towards eliminating your pest problem in the future.

When you find them, simply use either your fingers or a pair of tweezers to pluck them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. This will kill them right away, ensuring that they don’t cause any more damage to your cabbage plants.

It takes some dedication, but with persistence and careful observation, manually removing cabbage worms can be successful in completely eradicating them from your garden.

Dry Them Out

Using natural methods to rid your garden of cabbage worms can be effective, economical and safe. One way is to sprinkle cornmeal onto the cabbage leaves of affected plants. This will cause the worms to eat the cornmeal, swell up, and then die.

Alternatively, rye flour sprinkled early in the morning has been known to have similar results. The combined effect of both can help dry out these pests before they cause irreversible damage – once they’re dead you can simply flick them off!

Another great defence against green cabbage worms is diatomaceous earth. It is a dust made from fossilized shells that act as an abrasive for insect exoskeletons – it’s totally safe for humans and animals but still perfectly capable of eradicating any pesky crawling creatures in your patch!

Sprinkle this dust over your leafy greens (or other plants susceptible to infestation) and you should see visible signs of improvement within days of application.

Introduce Some Beneficial Bugs

Beneficial bugs are one natural way to rid your garden of pesky pests. The most common beneficial bug for cabbage worms is the Trichogramma wasp. This small, non-stinging insect feeds on the eggs of cabbage worms and can quickly break down an infestation.

You can purchase these wasps, either live or in their preserved form, and they'll arrive at your doorstep ready to help keep your garden healthy and free of harmful pest invasions.

Releasing these beneficial bugs into your garden may vary depending on where you live, so be sure to look up when the optimal time is for releasing them.

It's also important to note that Trichogramma wasps don't feed on adult moths and caterpillars - they only parasitize eggs - so make sure other natural pest control methods such as handpicking caterpillars off plants is part of your overall strategy for keeping common pests out of your garden.

Introducing some beneficial bugs to the garden is an effective way to stop pests from destroying its bounty.

Spray Neem Oil

Neem oil is a great natural, organic method of pest control. Not only is it an effective treatment against cabbage worms in particular, but it can also be used as a preventative measure.

By spraying the garden with neem oil, the plants will become less attractive to pests such as cabbage worms, helping you stay one step ahead of an infestation.

To get the most out of this pest control method, however, remember that it is best used as a preventive measure rather than trying to kill the caterpillars on contact.

If you want to use neem oil in your garden, there are many tutorials available online or you can find our own guide specifically for using neem oil for pest control.

Neem has its own unique properties and chemical process that must be understood and properly applied for optimum results against nasty cabbage worm infestations.

With proactivity and proper application techniques, you'll soon be able to thwart any signs of cabbage Worms on your plants!

How To Kill Cabbage Worms With Insecticides

The cabbage worm is a voracious eater, capable of defoliating entire crops. Unfortunately, these same ravenous pests can be difficult to eradicate with traditional pest control methods.

The good news is, there are beneficial insects available that can help you combat the problem. Depending on your situation, insecticides could be the best solution for getting rid of stubborn cabbage worms.

Use Pesticides Containing Bacillus Thuringiensis Or Spinosad

Pesticides are an essential element of modern agricultural systems, but many of the chemical insecticides available on the market can also harm animals, plants, and ecosystems.

Fortunately, there are more safe, low-risk options to curb dangerous pests. One such solution is using pesticides containing Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.t) or Spinosad.

Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occurring microorganism found in soil and it has been used as a form of biopesticide since the 1920s. Spraying it onto plants once per week or so will target destructive cabbage worms in the soil and effectively eliminate them with minimal risk to other species.

Bt sprays are easily applied via concentrated solutions, usually by simply attaching a spray bottle to your garden hose for simple application over large areas. Not only does this method attack plant-destroying insects quickly, but it's also economical and efficient for maintaining gardens infested with pest insects from the cabbage family.

Additionally, these methods are collectively safer for beneficial organisms like bees, so you won't run into any unintended consequences when trying to solve your pest problems.

Final Thoughts On How To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms

Fighting cabbage worms in the garden doesn't have to be an intimidating ordeal. By arming yourself with the right knowledge and methods, you can create a plan of action that will help you get rid of these pest once and for all.

To start, being aware of any signs of infestation is very important - look for brown streaks on your plants, holes in leaves and yellowing foliage. Once you've identified a potential infestation, reach out to one of the solutions mentioned above to quickly get rid of them. Canada Grow Supplies can provide you with the necessary tools and supplies for effective cabbage worm control.


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