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One of the great solutions to cabbage worms, army worms, other leaf-eating insects in your garden, is to use a common product called Sevin. This happens to be a dust form. It’s a 5% dust. It’s real simple; you pop the top off and you just sprinkle it on, almost like snow, on the surface of your leaves.The scent of garlic, peppermint, sage, thyme, and rosemary are all known to drive away butterflies, moths, and other cabbage pests. So, it may be a good idea to plant rows of these herbs on either side of your cabbage. The scents of certain plants ward off cabbage-eating insects.Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt is a biological insecticide that works by creating toxic proteins which kill larvae instead of mature insects. Found naturally in soil, these microbes are often considered to be the best pesticides for cabbage pests because they target only specific insects.
- Manual Removal.
- Floating Row Covers.
- Plant Purple & Red Varieties.
- Use Polyculture & Companion Planting.
- Beneficial Insects.
- Decoy Moths.
- Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) Spray.
- Neem Oil Spray.
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How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin?. The main ingredient in Sevin insecticide is carbaryl. This product is a broad-spectrum chemical that controls more than 100 species of insects in your vegetable garden. Pests die from both ingestion and absorption of Sevin when encountering it. Ingestion of treated vegetables before the waiting…
Table of contents How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin?
Brassica Leafy Vegetables 00:43
Fruiting Vegetables 01:14
Leafy Vegetables 01:36
Safety Considerations 02:02
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See more information on the topic Can you use Sevin dust on cabbage here:
How do you use Sevin for cabbage worms?
Spraying with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) every 1 to 2 weeks will also help control cabbage …
Date Published: 8/22/2021
Is Sevin dust safe for vegetable gardens? – Evergreen Seeds
Peppers, eggplants, and other fruiting vegetables have many insect pests. The same is true for members of the brassica family, which includes broccoli, brussel …
Date Published: 7/1/2021
How to Control and Prevent Cabbage Worms in Your Garden
Liqu Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use2 kills cabbageworms on contact; just shake the container, adjust your nozzle and you’re ready to go. If you prefer dust, …
Date Published: 5/29/2021
A safe approach to cabbageworm control – NDSU Agriculture
We can use safe insectices to control the worms. … Nobody likes wormy cabbage or broccoli, but the sight of poisonous Sevin dust on our …
Date Published: 12/18/2022
How to Identify and Get Rid of Cabbage Worms
Spraying with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) every 1 to 2 weeks will also help control cabbage family pests. Sevin also is effective. And, the few …
Date Published: 4/17/2021
How long do you need to wait to harvest head cabbage after …
You should wait 3 days before you harvest cabbage after treating it with Sevin according to the product label on the Sevin concentrate and the Sevin Dust.
Date Published: 8/14/2022
How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin? – eHow
Harvesting Vegetables After Sevin Dust. Sevin makes two kinds of dust that are both popular insectices, largely because of how easy they are …
Date Published: 11/13/2021
How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin?
You should not use Sevin or any other chemical pestice on your vegetables unless you feel there is a clear need. Store Sevin in its original container and …
Date Published: 5/10/2022
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- Author: Pests, Weeds \u0026 Problems
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- Date Published: Sep 12, 2018
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What can I put on my cabbage to keep bugs off?
The scent of garlic, peppermint, sage, thyme, and rosemary are all known to drive away butterflies, moths, and other cabbage pests. So, it may be a good idea to plant rows of these herbs on either side of your cabbage. The scents of certain plants ward off cabbage-eating insects.
Which insecticide is best for cabbage?
Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt is a biological insecticide that works by creating toxic proteins which kill larvae instead of mature insects. Found naturally in soil, these microbes are often considered to be the best pesticides for cabbage pests because they target only specific insects.
Is Sevin dust safe to use on vegetables?
This Sevin spray is a non-systemic insecticide that can be used on vegetables in the garden. Sevin dust is systemic. The spray kills insects without soaking through the skins of the vegetables. Its’ manufacturer still recommends rinsing vegetables before consumption to remove any remaining insecticide particulates.
How do you protect cabbage?
- Manual Removal.
- Floating Row Covers.
- Plant Purple & Red Varieties.
- Use Polyculture & Companion Planting.
- Beneficial Insects.
- Decoy Moths.
- Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) Spray.
- Neem Oil Spray.
What is eating holes in my cabbage leaves?
These small holes are telltale signs of the cabbage worm. Actually, the are several insects that cause this type of damage and are generally referred to as ‘cabbage worms’. This includes the imported cabbage worm, the diamondback caterpillar and cabbage looper.
What keeps eating my cabbage leaves?
ANSWER: The most common cabbage pests are aphids, worms, moths, and slugs. Aphids and other mites drain the essential sap from cabbage leaves, leaving the plant weak and damaged, as well as more susceptible to other pest infestations and diseases.
What do you spray on cabbage worms?
While we try to avoid chemical pesticides, you can control cabbage worms with a few different organic approved sprays: Neem Oil , bT, and even soapy water. The most important thing when using a spray is to spray the undersides of your leaves where eggs and worms hide.
What is the safest pesticide for vegetables?
Pyrethrins. Extracted from daisies, pyrethrins is known to be one of the safest insecticides to use in a vegetable garden. Aside from instantly killing insects, they are virtually nontoxic to mammals and dissipates in a day or less.
How do you protect cabbage from slugs?
- Erect a Barrier.
- Use Black Plastic Mulch.
- Avoid Organic Mulch.
- Plant in Raised Beds.
- Let Ducks Loose in Your Garden.
- Buy Predatory Slugs.
- Use Slug and Snail Bait.
What is eating my cabbage and broccoli leaves?
The most common are the imported cabbage worm, the cabbage looper, and the diamondback moths. I would like to include a fourth, the cross-striped cabbage worm, because it is particularly problematic for me. These pests are often called “cabbage worms” even though they are actually caterpillars.
How do you treat aphids on cabbage?
Cabbage aphids are persistent and outlive many of their natural predators. You can easily make an insecticidal soap in your kitchen. Combine a few teaspoons of mild, liquid Dawn dish soap with one quart of water and mix well. Either spray or wipe the soapy water mixture on your plants and let dry.
How You Can Fight Cabbage Worms with Sevin Dust – Straw Bale Garden Club
You see this cabbage? It’s not supposed to look like that. It looks like somebody shot it with a machine gun.
This is cabbage worm. It’s having a nice feast on this cabbage plant.
One of the great solutions to cabbage worms, army worms, other leaf-eating insects in your garden, is to use a common product called Sevin. This happens to be a dust form. It’s a 5% dust.
It’s real simple; you pop the top off and you just sprinkle it on, almost like snow, on the surface of your leaves.
You just wanna make sure you get a little bit on each leaf. You don’t necessarily have to worry about front/back.
The insects will crawl around on the leaves and they’re gonna get into this dust, and that’s gonna take care of the insect. It’s pretty harmless for people. It’s a 5% concentration. It’s naphthyl methylcarbanate, which is actually pretty inert for human beings.
It’s pretty harmful for insects, but for us, it’s pretty safe. Matter of fact, the label says you can use this up until a day before harvest. It’s really pretty safe stuff.
You should really only try to use it, depending on the crop, between four and seven times a year, however.
Pick the time; the first time you start to see some damage on your cabbage, you wanna get out there and get after it right away.
This one, I kinda missed the boat. I was on vacation last week. I should’ve done the application last week. The cabbage worm has really wreaked some havoc while I’ve been gone last week.
You shouldn’t wait till it looks this bad. Get it a little bit earlier.
Sprinkle the surface, and you’d be surprised. By tomorrow, you won’t be able to find any additional cabbage worm damage on this plant. It takes care of them fairly quickly.
Get yourself some Sevin dust. Dust the top of those plants. Works on anything that has a leaf that’s sort of a lush leaf. Things like in the cabbage family, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, anything that has a large leaf surface like that.
If you start to see little holes in it, it’s probably a leaf-eating insect, and this will take care of it. Get some Sevin dust, apply it, and it should work for you.
How to Keep Bugs From Eating Cabbage Plants [7 Expert Tips]
To stop bugs from eating your cabbage plants immediately, treat your cabbage with natural products such as Bt bacterium, neem oil, and set out beer traps for snails. You can also use commercial insecticides to wipe out cabbage pests or pick the worms off by hand. In order to prevent insects from preying upon cabbage, use row covers to protect the plants from flying insects. You can also grow companion plants near your cabbage that naturally deter insects.
What Types of Bugs Eat Cabbage Plants?
Of the several species of insects that eat cabbage, the most common are cabbage worms and cabbage loopers. These small green, brown, or yellow worms are actually the caterpillars of moths and butterflies. While the adults of these species are usually harmless to cabbage, the young will eat the outer leaves of the plants.
Most cabbage-eating worms are actually butterfly and moth caterpillars.
Beware of white butterflies—their caterpillars often eat cabbage.
Aphids are common cabbage pests.
Snails and slugs may attack your cabbage.
Aphids and flea beetles are two common insect pests that feed on cabbage leaves. If you find flat green or brown insects on the undersides of leaves, you have an aphid infestation. Flea beetles are recognizable because these small black beetles jump when startled. Common garden slugs and snails will also eat your cabbage leaves, especially at night.
7 Methods to Stop Bugs From Eating Your Cabbage Plants
Because so many garden pests are after your cabbage, you need to use the right methods to stop them. Below is a list of tactics, with specific notes on what cabbage-eating pests each one stops. Using this list, you can keep your cabbage harvest safe.
Bt powder, short for Bacillus Thuringiensis, contains a natural bacteria that kills pest moth and butterfly larvae. This product is not a pesticide. It is a naturally occurring bacteria that kills cutworms and other larvae. As the worms try to eat your cabbage, they will be killed off by the bacteria.
Use this Bt powder to protect cabbage from a cabbage looper, cutworm, or other caterpillars.
Bt powder contains a non-chemical bacteria that kills off harmful worms and caterpillars.
Dust the powder onto the cabbage head once every 1–2 weeks to kill off worms.
To use Bt powder, dust it on your cabbage leaves every 1–2 weeks. It will keep the worms and all types of green caterpillars from eating your leaves. As a bonus, Bt powder won’t introduce any chemicals into your garden.
Best For: Stopping infestations of cutworm, cabbage looper, and any other small green, yellow or brown worms on your cabbage.
Neem oil is another natural option for killing off harmful insects. While it won’t work on worms, neem oil will kill and repel flea beetles and aphids. Because it is a natural oil derived from a tree, neem oil is environmentally safe and not harmful to humans or other plants.
Neem oil is a natural tree oil that will kill aphids and flea beetles.
Mix 1 tablespoon of this neem oil with 3–4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap.
Spray pest insects on plants thoroughly to kill them.
To use neem oil to treat your cabbage, mix 3–4 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Mix thoroughly, then spray your cabbage leaves with the mixture. This mixture is especially potent against aphids. If you spray it on clusters of aphids on the bottom of your cabbage leaves, you’ll kill off the culprits quickly.
Best For: Non-worm cabbage pests, such as aphids and flea beetles.
If you have slugs and snails infesting your garden, kill them off with beer. No, really. Pour beer into shallow bowls or Tupperware containers and arrange them near your cabbage. Rather than go for the plants, snails and slugs will be drawn to the beer. Once they enter the bowl, they’ll drown.
Pour beer into several small bowls or plastic containers.
Arrange the beer lures near your cabbage.
Snails and slugs will be attracted to the beer and drown in it, leaving your cabbage unharmed.
Beer is a much better slug-killing option than salt.
Beer is a safer way to stop snails and slugs than using rings of salt to protect your cabbage plants. Salt will leach into the ground and increase the salinity of the soil. This can kill your cabbage plants or any other plant that attempts to grow in your garden in the future.
Best For: Eliminating slugs and snails.
If natural methods aren’t cutting it and infectious aphids and other leaf-devourers won’t leave your cabbage alone, use a garden-safe insecticidal soap. These products can be safely used on vegetables and fruits without harm to humans, but they’ll wipe out pest insects.
This insecticidal soap will kill off cabbage-eating insects but is safe for use on edible plants.
Insecticidal soap is effective at killing aphids and flea beetles but does not kill worms, slugs, and caterpillars.
Always follow the instructions on the bottle when using an insecticidal soap. Most products only need to be sprayed once every 1–2 weeks to kill off infestations. Once you pick your cabbage leaves, just be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating.
Best For: Aphids, flea beetles, and similar insects. Not effective against cutworms and caterpillars.
Pick Off the Worms
One way to deal with worms that infest your cabbage is to simply pick them off by hand and kill them. If you have the time to go out into your garden on a daily basis and inspect your cabbage plants, this method can be just as effective as applying Bt bacterium.
Pick or knock green cabbage worms and similar pests off your cabbage leaves.
Crush or otherwise kill the worms to stop the infestation.
This method works best for small plots and backyard gardens. If you’ve been battling holes in cabbage leaves and your schedule doesn’t allow you to tend to your garden daily, Bt powder is a stronger option.
Best For: Killing cutworms, cabbage loopers, and other caterpillars.
Use Row Covers
Because so many cabbage pests are larvae of flying insects, one of the best ways to protect your plants from being eaten in the first place is to cover the plants with an insect-proof row cover. This will stop species of cabbage moth and white butterflies from laying eggs on your cabbage. Your cabbage patch will be totally worm-free.
These row covers can be laid over your cabbage plants to stop worms and caterpillars.
Row covers prevent insects from laying eggs on your cabbage
Row covers allow your crop to receive water, air, and sunlight.
Because row covers allow water and sunlight to reach your plants, you don’t have to worry about smothering your cabbage. Keep in mind, row covers are a preventative measure that won’t kill off existing worms, but they will prevent more from arriving.
Best For: Preventing worms and caterpillars from eating your cabbage.
Grow Companion Plants
Did you know that several common varieties of plants drive off pest insects? The scent of garlic, peppermint, sage, thyme, and rosemary are all known to drive away butterflies, moths, and other cabbage pests. So, it may be a good idea to plant rows of these herbs on either side of your cabbage.
The scents of certain plants ward off cabbage-eating insects.
Plant companion crops near your cabbage to keep moths, butterflies, and other insects away from your cabbage.
Some good companions for cabbage are garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and peppermint.
Choose a companion plant that you enjoy cooking with. Garlic is a staple of many cuisines, while peppermint is so useful it may even repel rodents from your garden. Each of these plants can provide its own benefit to your table in addition to warding off cabbage pests.
Best For: Preventing infestation when planting your garden in spring.
Methods to Avoid When Protecting Cabbage
Despite what some online guides recommend, you should never spray a mixture containing vegetable oil on your cabbage plants in order to kill bugs. The viscous oil will prevent the plant from respiration, interrupting photosynthesis and killing your plant. You might kill a few insects, but you’re sure to destroy your year’s cabbage crop in the process.
Vegetable oil mixes
Similarly, do not use salt in your garden as a slug and snail stopper. Salt will wash into the soil and can be carried long distances by water. Most garden plants can’t tolerate salt in the soil. By spreading salt, you may turn your garden into a dead zone. As a precaution, avoid any strong pesticides that are not specifically advertised as being safe for use on fruits and vegetables.
How Do You Stop Your Cabbages From Being Eaten by Bugs?
If you want to stop malicious insects from eating your cabbage you should:
Use Bt powder to naturally kill off worms and caterpillars.
Spray a natural neem oil mixture to wipe out aphids and flea beetles.
Place beer traps to drown slugs and snails.
Try a produce-safe pesticidal soap if aphids and beetles keep returning.
Pick off worms by hand to protect your plants.
Protect your cabbage with row covers to stop moths and butterflies from laying eggs on them.
Plant insect-deterring companion plants (like garlic and peppermint) near your cabbage.
Each of these methods is an excellent pest killer or deterrent. By using one or more of these methods, you can wipe out whatever’s eating your cabbage and prevent a return of the pests.
The Best Pesticide for Cabbage Worms
It’s always best to use the least toxic pesticide that will provide good control of cabbage worms. If the application of Bacillus thuringiensis is not practical, such as later in the growing season when the caterpillars have grown or are digging into plants, you’ll need to try something else. Pyrethrin (Pyrethrum), derived from plant sources, or spinosad, made from special bacteria, can provide adequate control. According to the Organic Materials Review Institute, these two natural insecticides are approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute for use on foods labeled as organic and cause minimal harm to humans and animals. However, they are lethal to beneficial insects.
8 Organic Ways to Get Rid of Cabbage Worms & Cabbage Moths ~ Homestead and Chill
Cabbage worms are one of the most common pests in the garden. Every gardener I know struggles with them! They can be sneaky, frustrating, and cause a lot of damage to plants. But I have good news: there are many easy ways to stop cabbage worms from destroying your garden, and still reap a beautiful, bountiful harvest!
Read along to learn 8 ways to get rid of cabbage worms and cabbage moths. Some options are preventative in nature, such as covering your plants with floating row covers – or even tricking the cabbage moths with color! Other methods involve directly killing the caterpillars. No matter what you choose, rest assured that all 8 of these cabbage moth control options are organic.
Before we dive into the ways to control cabbage moth damage in the garden, let’s briefly familiarize ourselves with these pesky little jerks. Also, please keep in mind that an organic garden is not a perfect one. A few cabbage worms or nibbles holes is not the end of the world.
What are Cabbage Moths and Cabbage Worms?
“Cabbage worms” is a relatively generic term that refers to a handful of species of small green pest caterpillars. As their names suggest, they are most attracted to the cabbage and mustard plant family. Also known as the brassica family, this includes veggies like broccoli, kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, turnip greens, and of course, cabbage. However, that isn’t all! We have found cabbage worms on a wide variety of other plants in our garden, including flowers.
Some cabbage worms are the larvae of small white butterflies, seen flitting around gardens during the day. The white butterflies are often referred to as “cabbage whites” or “cabbage moths” – even though they aren’t really moths at all. However, there is a similar caterpillar, the cabbage looper, that does indeed come from a brown nocturnal moth. Cabbage loopers closely resemble butterfly cabbage worms, except cabbage loopers are usually skinnier and move like inchworms… you know, humping along.
Both cabbage worms and cabbage loopers are controlled in the same manner.
Cabbage white butterfly. Image courtesy of the Telegraph UK
Cabbage Worm Life Cycle & Damage Caused
Cabbage moths or butterflies don’t directly damage plants themselves. That fun job is left up to the their larvae – the “worms”! If you notice white butterflies dancing around your garden, they’re probably laying eggs, and thus creating future destructive cabbage worms. As they land on plants, cabbage moths often bump their butts on leaves to deposit eggs.
Cabbage moth eggs look like white or yellow oblong dots. They are almost always attached to the underside of leaves. If you find and recognize these eggs, squishing them is a great early control method! However, please note that ladybug eggs are also oblong and yellow, but are found in clusters. Cabbage worm eggs are usually sporadic and solo.
As the larvae of cabbage moths and butterflies emerge from their eggs, the cabbage worms begin to immediately feed on the surrounding plant matter. This creates little holes in the leaves, expanding to larger holes – or to completely demolished leaves and plants as the caterpillars grow in size and population.
Some cabbage worm damage is only cosmetic, but can otherwise be devastating to small tender seedlings. The caterpillars will continue to eat and grow for several weeks, until they’re old enough to form a chrysalis and transform into a cabbage white butterfly (or moth).
8 ORGANIC WAYS TO PREVENT & CONTROL CABBAGE WORMS
Now that you know more about their lifecycle, here are several ways to control cabbage worms in your garden – organically! Let’s discuss each of them below.
Manual Removal Floating Row Covers Plant Purple & Red Varieties Use Polyculture & Companion Planting Beneficial Insects Decoy Moths Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) Spray Neem Oil Spray
1) Manual Removal of Cabbage Worms
Are you comfortable handling insects? I used to be a bit more squeamish, but the fact of the matter is: manually squishing or removing certain pests right when you see them is sometimes the most quick, easy and effective way to stop them in their tracks. Especially if you are only trying to manage a handful of plants! I do it all the time. This includes hand-picking cabbage worms and caterpillars from brassicas and leafy greens (which the chickens greatly appreciate, wink wink…) or squishing colonies of aphids. I also know some gardener friends that nab cabbage moths with butterfly nets and tennis rackets!
To reduce damage from cabbage worms by hand, you’ll need to inspect your plants frequently. Make it a routine to check over your plants once or twice per week. When you’re out on the hunt, keep in mind that cabbage worms are most often found on the underside of leaves, or tucked in the new growth at the plant’s center. Sneaky cabbage worms will also lay along the center vein of a kale leaf, blending in and perfectly disguised. In addition to holey leaves, the “frass” or poop that they leave behind is a key indicator that a cabbage caterpillar is nearby! Look for poop.
It can be effective to squish or collect cabbage worms by hand, but you can also go after cabbage moth eggs. Examine the underside of leaves for the little oblong white to yellow dots, and simply wipe them away. Then they’re gone before they can do any damage at all.
Cabbage moth eggs shown on top, and a cabbage worm (and its tell-tale poop) on the bottom.
2) Row Covers
One of the best ways to keep cabbage worms from eating your plants is to prevent cabbage moths from accessing the plants at all! Mission “stop the butt-bumping”, if you will.
Individual plants, raised beds, or sections thereof can be protected with row covers, traditionally supported on hoop structures. Also called “floating row covers”, they block out pests or other undesirable elements. Some row covers are used to stop insects, while others may be used for frost-protection or providing shade. We use them in our garden to prevent cabbage worm damage as well as protect tender young seedlings from wild birds.
We use a combination of these sleek hoops along with this insect netting in our garden. The shorter version of the hoops work perfectly in our 2 and 3-foot wide beds. With the addition of these base extenders, they also fit well across our widest beds (4.5 feet), though they stay fairly short. To provide more “head room” or arch over larger plants like Brussels sprouts and tomatoes, the hi-rise super hoops would work best. You can also make your own hoops from PVC pipe.
It is easy to pull back the row cover material when needed (e.g. for harvesting) and simply leave the hoops in place. Be sure to check the various sizes of netting available to best fit the size of your garden! We ordered a large roll and cut them to size for each bed.
Our hoops and row covers on top.
With the row covers removed for photos and harvesting. Even with the plants fully grown in, we still lay the floating row covers on top of the hoops (and parts rest directly on the plants too, which is more than okay) and secure it to the hoops with clothes pins.
If you use the right material and tuck the corners and sides in tight (we use clothes pins for this), row covers can effectively keep out cabbage moths and their caterpillars, along with many other pest insects. Row covers may also protect your plants from squirrels, rabbits, birds, neighborhood cats, and other larger vertebrate pests too!
However, keep in mind that pollinators won’t be able to get in either. Thankfully, the cabbage plant family doesn’t need pollination to grow. Yet to use floating row covers with flowering plants like squash, you either need to open and close the row covers daily – or hand-pollinate the squash.
See this article all about hoops and row covers to learn more – including tips about DIY PVC hoops, and using row covers for shade or frost protection.
3) Plant Purple & Red Varieties
Did you know that pests are less attracted to red and purple vegetables? They sure are! Year after year, the purple cabbage and red kale in our garden is significantly less damaged by cabbage worms and aphids than their green counterparts. One reasonable theory is that green or pale-colored pests can’t blend in and hide as easily on brightly-colored vegetables as they can on green ones. That would make them an easy target for predators.
Furthermore, studies show that anthocyanin (the antioxidant-rich flavonoid that makes red, purple and blue-pigmented veggies so good for us!) is actually mildly toxic to caterpillars. It may even deter larger pests like squirrels!
In a garden bed of both red and green cabbage, the cabbage moths will almost exclusively lay eggs on the green cabbage! Don’t believe me? See the photos below.
Planted in the same bed, every green cabbage has cabbage worm damage – while the red cabbages are all unblemished.
So, choosing red and purple varieties of the cabbage family is one way to reduce cabbage worm damage. Yet I’m sure we all crave a bit more variety than a garden bed full of red cabbage! And that is more than okay. Variety is good, and leads us to our next point…
4) Polyculture & Companion Planting to Deter Cabbage Moths
Growing a wide variety of plants creates biodiversity in your garden. This is a way to maintain balance, and also attract more beneficial insects. Additionally, variety and polyculture – the term for mixing many types of plants in one space – reduces the chances of widespread devastation by pests that are all attracted to the same crop. Meaning, it may not be the best idea to plant an entire garden bed full of just broccoli.
I also highly suggest interplanting some companion plants with your pest-prone crops. For example, brassica companion plants like thyme, dill, oregano, lavender, onions, garlic, and marigolds are said to deter cabbage moths.
On the other hand, some companion plants can serve as a “trap crop” and attract cabbage worms – while luring them away from your veggies! Nasturtiums are a prime example. However, be sure to periodically remove infested trap crop plants to prevent a booming population of cabbage moths in your garden. Or manually remove and kill the cabbage worms from the trap crops.
For more information on companion planting combinations and natural pest deterrents, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive a free garden planning toolkit! There is a detailed companion planting chart included in the toolkit.
I hand-picked all of these cabbage worms from a potted nasturtium, planted as a trap crop at the end of a bed of collard greens and kale. These little jerks ate all of the nasturtium flowers and many of the leaves, but completely left the brassica veggies alone! Companion planting for the win.
5) Use Decoy Cabbage Moths
This tip is a quick one. Apparently, cabbage moths are territorial and will stay away if there are other cabbage whites around! Thus, some gardeners have success in deterring them by placing decoy or dummy white butterflies around their garden beds. The most common way to do this is to make your own. There are printable templates available online to help.
6) Beneficial Insects: Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside or on top of other arthropods, including caterpillars and their pupae. Therefore, these beneficial insects can be a great tool against cabbage worms and other pest caterpillars like tomato horn worms. There are dozens of species and types, so they won’t all look like the one shown below. Once their eggs hatch, the wasp larvae feed on the host caterpillar, killing it.
Did you know that you can buy a starter community of parasitic wasps to introduce to your garden? These Trichogramma wasps are a popular choice. Unlike other large wasps that you may be imagining, these do not bite or sting, and go virtually unnoticed by humans! I am leery of purchasing them for our garden, only because we raise monarch caterpillars.
A parasitic wasp. Photo from Phys.org
7) Bacillus Thuringiensis – “Bt”
Bacillus thuringiensis, also known as Bt, is a naturally-occurring, soil-dwelling bacteria. It is a common active ingredient in organic biological pesticides. Namely, it kills caterpillars. Bt is ONLY toxic against the larvae of butterflies or moths. It makes them stop eating. Therefore, Bt is commonly used to control cabbage worms and cabbage loopers on the brassica plant family.
“Bt is a bacterium that is not toxic to humans or other mammals, but is toxic to certain insects when ingested. It works as an insecticide by producing a crystal-shaped protein (Cry toxin) that specifically kills certain insects. Bt is naturally found on leaves and in soil worldwide, and has been used commercially both in organic and conventional agriculture for over fifty years. Over two decades of review, the EPA and numerous scientific bodies have consistently found that Bt and Bt-crops are not harmful to humans.” Entomological Society of America
Bt spray is available to purchase either pre-mixed, or as a concentrate that must be diluted before it is applied to plants. Concentrates are the more cost-effective option. We use this concentrate by Safer Brand. Mostly, for our cannabis plants to stop “bud worms” from destroying them – and on rare occasions in the garden, when the cabbage worms are beyond other means of control. When applied to vegetable crops, Bt is considered safe for human consumption even if sprayed the same day as harvest. (To read more about cannabis-specific organic pest control, see this post.)
How to Use Bt in the Garden
When mixing your Bt spray, follow the directions on the Bt product you purchase. For the one we use, it calls to dilute 1 tablespoon of Bt per one gallon of water. Mix well directly in your pump sprayer. Spray your plants of concern to the point of dripping, including the bottom of leaves.
Like other foliar sprays, it is best to apply your Bt solution in the evening hours. Yet Bt is even more mild than others, and doesn’t pose the same risk for accidentally burning leaves with improper applications. On the contrary, Bt rapidly degrades in sunlight and also washes off with rain or other water. It is most effective the day or two after application, and considered virtually non existent after a week.
Bt is most effective against small caterpillars, so is important to treat caterpillar-infested plants early on. It may not impact larger caterpillars, such as those over 1 inch long. You may need to hand-pick those fatties. Speaking of fatties… you know how much I love monarch caterpillars! We are very, very cautious as to not spray Bt anywhere near our milkweed plants. Also, avoid over-spraying your plants onto non-target areas!
Bt Caterpillar Killer, approved for organic gardening
8) Neem Oil
Neem oil is a plant-based oil, extracted from the seeds of the India-native neem tree. Concentrated neem oil is diluted and mixed, and then sprayed onto plants for organic pest control. Neem oil is particularly effective at controlling small soft-bodied insects, like aphids, thrips, spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and white flies. When applied directly, the oil can coat their bodies and kill them – or otherwise interfere with reproduction and feeding.
Neem oil can also help repel cabbage moths, mosquitoes, and flies. Therefore, routinely spraying your garden with a neem oil solution may make your plants less attractive to pests. However, if your plant is already infested, neem oil will not typically kill cabbage worms.
That said, neem oil is last on this list of cabbage worm control options for a reason. Used in conjunction with other control methods, neem oil can help the problem – but will not likely prevent or eliminate the presence of cabbage moths entirely.
If you want to use neem oil in your garden, I highly suggest you read this article to learn more about how to properly mix and use it. Because neem combats fungal diseases like powdery mildew and doesn’t harm beneficial insects (when used correctly), it can be a great product to use in an organic garden! Yet when neem oil is applied incorrectly or in the wrong situation (which is common!) – it can do more harm than good.
And that is how we get rid of cabbage worms.
In closing, I hope you learned some new helpful tips to control cabbage worms! Again, perfection is not the goal here. Please don’t get discouraged (or feel tempted to reach for chemical pesticides) if your plants have a few blemishes. In contrast, be proud of your efforts to grow food in an organic manner! I commend you.
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How to Control and Prevent Cabbage Worms in Your Garden
Cabbage white butterflies are native to Europe and Asia, but they are extremely common throughout the United States. 2 Easily identified by their white color, male cabbage whites have one round black spot on their wings, while females have two black spots. Cabbage white butterflies and cabbageworms are present in gardens from early spring to late fall. 1 Several generations occur each season and numbers build toward season’s end, so gardeners must stay on guard the entire growing season to prevent cabbageworm damage to crops.
When it’s time for the female cabbage white butterfly to lay her eggs, she seeks out plants known as “crucifers.” These are Brassica family vegetables such as cabbage, mustard, broccoli and kale. Then she deposits her eggs on the undersides of leaves, where wormlike larvae hatch two to three weeks later. 1 While the adult butterfly feeds on nectar from flowers, its newly hatched larvae seek other food. Known as imported cabbageworms or simply cabbageworms, these pests feed on cruciferous plants, chewing holes in leaves, boring into cabbages and ruining entire heads.
As they flit and flutter around the garden, butterflies are a delight to watch. However, some of these beauties can lead to quite a bit of damage to your garden. One innocent-looking offender is the cabbage white butterfly, also known as the imported cabbageworm butterfly. By staying on guard for this garden pest and its destructive larvae, you can stop the damage and protect your crops.
After planting seeds or transplanting young plants, cover the hoops with fabric, allowing at least 6 inches of fabric to sit on the ground on all sides. Commercial row-cover fabrics are popular options for protecting crops, but basic tulle is more economical and readily available from local fabric stores. Place rocks, poles, bricks or other heavy objects on top of the excess fabric to keep it in place. Row covers designed in this way make it impossible for the cabbage white butterfly to access your plants and lay her eggs.
The simplest way to prevent egg-laying on your plants is to create a barrier around cruciferous vegetable plants as soon as you plant them. A tunnel-like row of simple hoops covered with protective fabric does the trick. 3 Install hoops made from PVC piping, metal or bamboo, making sure the hoops are high enough so plants won’t touch them when fully grown. Seed packets or plant tags list each plant’s mature height. Secure hoop ends by pushing them deep in the ground.
The key to avoiding cabbageworm damage is to prevent the butterflies from laying eggs on plants. Once laid, the small eggs are easily overlooked. You may not know your garden has cabbageworms until you see them or their damage on your crops. While preventing damage is ideal, there is still hope for a harvest if you stop further damage promptly.
Once spring arrives, watch for the white butterfly in your garden. If you decided to delay row covers, installing them later on is still helpful. However, once sighted, it is possible the butterfly has already laid eggs. Check diligently for signs of cabbageworms or their damage. Inspect the undersides of all leaves before covering crops, and remove the cover occasionally to look for eggs or cabbageworm damage.
If you discover crop damage, take action immediately to kill cabbageworms. Choose the pesticide product type that works best for you. Liquid Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use 2 kills cabbageworms on contact; just shake the container, adjust your nozzle and you’re ready to go. If you prefer dust, a thin, uniform layer of Sevin Insect Killer Dust Ready to Use starts killing cabbageworms immediately upon contact.
For larger garden areas, Sevin Insect Killer Concentrate and Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Spray liquids kill cabbageworms and more than 500 other insect pests by contact, and keeps working to protect your crops for up to three months.+
While it may seem logical to try and eliminate the cabbageworm in its butterfly form, focusing your efforts on the destructive larvae helps keep your garden welcoming for beneficial butterflies, bees and birds.
Take action early to protect your crop against egg-laying and damage from hatched cabbageworms. With the help of GardenTech and Sevin garden insecticides, you can enjoy a healthy cabbage crop and the homespun treats that come with it.
+Except fire ants and ticks
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for listed plants and pests, application frequency and pre-harvest intervals (PHI) for edible crops.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.
GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden.
1. C. Klass, “Imported Cabbageworm,” Cornell University, 2012
2. R. K. Walton, “Cabbage White,” Mass Audubon.
3. R. Bessin and T. Coolong, “Row Covers for Insect Management,” University of Kentucky Entomology, February 2010.
A safe approach to cabbageworm control — Yard & Garden Report
The annual dance of the imported cabbageworm moth (Pieris rapae) is now underway. The delicate moths are fluttering up and down over our cabbage and broccoli plants.
Nobody likes wormy cabbage or broccoli, but the sight of poisonous Sevin dust on our vegetables is not very appetizing either.
This year’s performance of these dancing moths is currently in its opening act. Eggs are being laid, but only tiny worms are being seen. We still have time to control these pests using a safe insecticide: Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide).
The cabbageworms will eat the bacteria and die within a couple days. This bacterium is safe to humans as well as to birds and beneficial insects. It is a smart and safe approach to controlling this pest.
Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Published in the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, July 28, 2914. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: Margrit and Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org.
How to Identify Cabbage Worms
Cabbage worms are velvety green larvae. They have a few faint yellow stripes. They are not to be confused with cabbage loopers, which are yellow-green caterpillars. Unlike cabbageworms, cabbage loopers raise and lower their bodies as they move because they have no middle legs. Cabbage worms become cabbage white butterflies, which are mostly white with a few black markings. Cabbage white butterflies might seem like a pretty addition to the garden, but they are probably laying eggs on the undersides of leaves.
Where you find cabbage worms and cabbage loopers, you also might find the eggs and larvae of the diamondback moth and the zebra caterpillar. The camouflage of these creatures is excellent, so you will often see the frass, or fecal matter, that they leave behind before you see them.
Photo Credit: Cabbageworm eggs like the one in this picture are absolutely tiny, so you might not see them before it’s too late.
Cabbage Worm Damage
Cabbage worms can happily eat away at the bases of cabbage, cauliflower, or the heads of broccoli without being noticed. They feed on foliage, and eventually they can leave plants only with stems and large veins. If left to their own devices, cabbage worms can devour your crops. Their fecal matter can also stain and contaminate the produce.
Photo Credit: Purdue University. Imported cabbageworms feed on the flesh of foliage and often hide on the undersides of leaves.
How long do you need to wait to harvest head cabbage after spraying sevin for worms?
Georgia from United States writes
the package mentions collards, chinese cabbage and kale
You should wait 3 days before you harvest cabbage after treating it with Sevin according to the product label on the Sevin concentrate and the Sevin Dust.
Answer last updated on: 05/18/2012
How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin?
Image Credit: Zbynek Pospisil/iStock/GettyImages
Timing is everything – in life, and in your vegetable garden. If insects are eating your burgeoning vegetable plants, applying insecticides too late means your produce may not be safe to eat by the time it’s perfectly ripe. Sevin products, like other insecticides, use a pre-harvest interval (PHI) to determine how long to wait between applying the product and harvesting/eating the produce. Whether you’re using liquids, granules or Sevin dust, vegetables are safe after washing – as long as the full PHI has elapsed. Different products use different PHIs for different veggies; check the label on your Sevin insecticide for specific guidance about the plants in your garden.
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Harvesting Vegetables After Sevin Dust
Sevin makes two kinds of dust that are both popular insecticides, largely because of how easy they are to apply: All you have to do is open the canister, sprinkle the dust over any bug-ridden plants and wait for the PHI to pass before harvesting and enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. Sevin’s Ready-To-Use 5% Dust kills more than 65 types of pests, while Sevin Sulfur Dust is a two-in-one product that targets insects and plant diseases.
Sevin’s Ready-To-Use 5% Dust requires longer pre-harvest intervals than some of Sevin’s other formulations. Legumes with inedible shells have a PHI of 21 days. Wait at least 14 days after using Sevin dust on collards, kale, lettuce and certain other greens. Radishes, carrots, potatoes and berries have a PHI of seven days. Melons, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and squash have a PHI of three days.
Sevin Sulfur Dust’s label breaks down the minimum retreatment interval (how long you should wait after first applying the product before reapplying) for a wide range of fruits and vegetables, but doesn’t offer specific guidance about PHI.
Harvesting Vegetables After Liquid Sevin
Image Credit: Mike Harrington/DigitalVision/GettyImages
Sevin liquid products have relatively short PHIs; it’s why some gardeners consider them among the best insecticides for vegetable gardens. You can safely harvest and eat many fruits and vegetables just one day after applying Sevin liquid insecticide. This group includes cabbage, collards, summer squash, berries, legumes with edible pods, many root vegetables and leafy vegetables such as arugula and spinach. Sweet corn has a PHI of three days, while stone fruits have a PHI of 14 days, and legumes with inedible shells have a PHI of 21 days.
Harvesting Vegetables After Sevin Granules
Sevin lawn granules are designed to target pests in the lawn and around a home’s perimeter. If your vegetable garden is tucked along a wall of your home, you may use a handheld spreader to disperse these granules across all the plant life in the area. This product has PHIs ranging from one day (for tomatoes, garden beets and edible-podded legumes) to as long as 40 days for spinach. Potatoes, soybeans and a number of root or tuber vegetables have a 21-day PHI, while collards, cabbage and pepper have a PHI of seven days.
Best Insecticides for Vegetable Gardens
Image Credit: alicjane/iStock/GettyImages
Sevin products are generally considered among the best insecticides for vegetable gardens, but home gardeners have an array of options. Some prefer to use natural remedies, such as spritzing plants with soapy water or using natural remedies like hot peppers or peppermint oil to discourage insect activity. Some gardeners use products that are derived from bacteria, which can be appropriate for organic gardens, while others are comfortable with chemical products like Sevin. That’s why it’s hard to definitively name the best insecticide for vegetable gardens: What works the best for your garden depends on your priorities and preferences.
How Soon Can You Eat Veggies After Using Sevin?
Apply 3/4 to 1 1/2 fluid ounce of Sevin per 1,000 square feet of eggplants (Solanum melongena), peppers (Capsicum spp.), tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and other fruiting vegetables to suppress stink bugs and thrips and to control tomato fruit worms, tomato hornworms, tomato pinworms, lance bugs, tarnished plant bugs, fall army worms, European corn borers and Colorado potato beetles. You may have to repeat the applications once a week for up to seven weeks, but do not apply more than once a week. Apply 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce per 1,000 square feet to control flea beetles and leafhoppers. Apply 1 1/2 fluid ounce per 1,000 square feet to control cutworms. Do not harvest or eat vegetables within three days of application.
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