Our vegetable gardens have dozens of predators that are waiting to make crops an afternoon snack. These pests often leave plants damaged beyond pair and drastically decrease yields. Learning how to get rid of cabbage worms with natural solutions is a way to save your organic gardening practice from the use of harmful pesticides or insecticides.
Cabbage worm control is sometimes a challenge, but persistence is your biggest ally when combatting dangerous insects. Finding a home remedy for cabbage worms doesn’t have to be difficult.
There are quite a few options if you prefer to keep chemicals away from your garden, and learning how these bugs work is the key to controlling an infestation.
Browse these strategies for how to kill cabbage worms so that you save your plants and enjoy them at the end of the growing season.
What are Cabbage Worms?
Growing cabbage and other members of the cabbage family is a worthwhile project. After you learn the best way to grow cabbage from seed or seedling, you may have to deal with pests that want to eat your produce before you do.
Cabbage worms include a handful of different species that look like small green caterpillars. They attack members of the brassica family or the cabbage family. You won’t find them solely feasting on cabbage plants, though.
These pests also enjoy consuming bok choy, collards, turnips, green cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and mustard greens. You may find cabbage worms on other plants, but these are some of the main ones.
Generally, cabbage worms are the larvae of the cabbage white butterfly or Pieris rapae. These butterflies are also sometimes called cabbage moths or an Imported Cabbage Worm.
Diamondback moths are another species or pest, sometimes called cabbage moths as well. A similar caterpillar called cabbage loopers closely resemble this species and feed on the same foods. Thankfully, they are all handled the same way.
Cabbage Worm Life Cycle
Cabbage worm control starts by understanding how these pests operate. Cabbage moths are the adults of this species and aren’t the ones responsible for damaging our plants. Once they lay eggs, it is the pupae and larvae that cause destruction.
Cabbage moth eggs are small and white and usually laid on the undersides of leaves. The larvae emerge from the eggs and immediately start feeding on the plants around them.
They leave tiny holes on the leaves that eventually expand into bigger ones until they are nearly gone. While some damage from cabbage worms is cosmetic, they are devastating to smaller seedings.
The caterpillars eat and grow for a few weeks until they are old enough to transform into a butterfly or moth.
When left to feed, it’s clear how damaging an infestation becomes. If you’re ready to learn how to get rid of cabbage worms, try using a home remedy for cabbage worms to take back control of your beds.
How to Get Rid of Cabbage Worms
Unlike when you get rid of aphids on tomato plants, you can’t always control cabbage worms, but there are ways to lower the risk of them returning in the early spring. Here are some of the most straightforward strategies to implement cabbage worm control.
Cabbage Worm Control
As long as you’re comfortable handling pests, handpicking them from the plants is one of the best forms of cabbage worms prevention.
Manually squishing the pests as you see them is quick and effective, especially when you only have a few that are hanging around your garden beds in the first place.
Check the entire plant for eggs and caterpillars and inspect your entire garden frequently. You never know where these worms might be hiding.
If you don’t spot any caterpillars or white eggs, their feces might be on the plants. Look for small black spots on your plants, and if you see them, it is a sign that you have cabbage worms.
Home Remedy for Cabbage Worms
A homemade cabbage worm spray is the perfect solution to keeping them away from your brassicas. This DIY spray is easy to make and also gets rid of other unfriendly pests like aphids.
For aphid control or to eliminate other pests, add the garlic, mint, pepper, horseradish, onion, and a few cups of water to a blender and pulse it nine or ten times until there are no noticeable lumps. Strain the liquid into a squirt bottle and set the solids into a separate bowl.
Add a tablespoon of regular dish soap to the bottle and top it off with more water. Shake the bottle, so everything is evenly mixed.
Hand pick the present bugs and spray your plants with the soapy water solution between each watering. Spread the solids around your garden, focusing closer to the infested plants.
Row Covers and Pests
Floating row covers are an incredibly effective way to protect your plants without changing the environment. With your vegetables covered, the butterflies can’t land on the plants and lay their eggs, eliminating the problem.
Many pests are actually less attracted to vegetables that have red and purple hues to them. You might have noticed that your purple cabbage is left alone while your green ones suffer.
Companion planting veggies with these colors next to your infected plants is an excellent way to deter cabbage worms.
Companion planting also attracts more beneficial insects that are natural predators to cabbage worms. Finding a way to introduce parasitic wasps or ladybugs to your beds is a good prevention technique. Any Brassicas family member grows well with garlic as a companion.
Bacillus thuringiensis and Diatomaceous Earth
Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT, is a bacteria that is naturally found in some soils. It is also toxic only against the larvae of butterflies and moths. Find BT spray at your local garden center and spritz it around your plants to kill them.
Diatomaceous Earth, or DE, is another excellent product. DE is a powder of crystallized shells that cuts through the bodies of insects like cabbage worms and kills them. This is a safe and easy way to get rid of green worms on collard greens and cabbage plants.
DE is non-toxic to humans and pets and won’t harm your crops. If you don’t have it in your budget to buy either of these remedies, try spreading cornmeal over your plants after watering them. The caterpillars eat the cornmeal, and their bodies swell until they die.
Neem oil is already plant-based and is a great way to avoid using insecticides on your organic plants. Neem oil is found at garden centers and hardware stores.
Spray it over your veggies and practice watering with neem oil to make your plants less attractive to other insects. It is better for prevention than for killing off an already infested plant.
Try applying neem oil to your veggies in the early spring, keeping a consistent routine throughout the growing season. You may also use this alongside more permanent techniques so that you continue to decrease your chances of losing some crops.
After months of caring for your plants and raising them from seedlings, it’s essential to protect them from problems that could be avoided. Cabbage worms aren’t the worst pest, but they cause significant damage when they get out of control.
Finding a home remedy for cabbage worms is vital because you started a garden to eat foods free from pesticides. We hope you find some comfort knowing there are natural solutions for cabbage worm control that work.
If learning how to get rid of cabbage worms has protected your crops from disaster, share these cabbage worm control tips on Facebook and Pinterest.