Getting Rid Of Cabbage Worms! Try Those 10 Tips To Save Your Plants.
Did you see pretty, white butterflies around your garden? Those pretty butterflies turn into cabbage worms and destroy your crops. Cabbage worms feed on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, eating the base of your plants or the heads of broccoli. These pests love to munch on foliage, eventually destroying all of your plants aside from the stems and large veins.
Don’t fret; there are several, natural methods for getting rid of cabbage worms in your garden.
How To Identify Cabbage Worms
Cabbage worms appear as velvety, green larvae with faint, yellow stripes on their body. Don’t confuse cabbage worms with cabbage loopers, which are yellow-green caterpillars. Cabbage worms turn into those pretty, white butterflies that flutter around your plant. Those butterflies lay eggs on the undersides of leaves, starting the cycle over again.
Real picture from my garden
10 Tips for Getting Rid Of Cabbage Worms
I prefer to use natural methods, if possible when dealing with pests in the vegetable garden. Our families consume these foods, so spraying chemicals on and around them isn’t appealing.
Handpick Them Off
The first thing you should do is handpick off the cabbage worms. I know; there are better ways to spend your afternoon. Handpicking them is boring and tedious, but it is important to remove as many as you can. Once you get off all the visible cabbage worms, you can move onto one or several of the tips listed below.
Diatomaceous earth, frequently called D.E., is an effective method for deterring pests because it enters their soft bodies, killing the worms. All you need to do is sprinkle some D.E. around your plants. D.E. is made of fossilized sea shells, and you can find it at most local garden centers.
BT is a bacterial pathogen that you can use to control the larvae naturally. Many organic gardeners prefer to use BT because it is safe for plants, beneficial insects, animals, and humans. It just targets the bad guys, and that’s what you want!
Start applying BT once a week after you start seeing the white butterflies in your garden. Using weekly is safe. You can apply in the evenings, and wash it off the next day when you water the garden. BT is available at most local garden centers, but you can surely find it online as well.
Set Up A Barrier Net
These pests like to lay eggs several times throughout the year. To prevent them from laying eggs on your plants, try row or netting barriers across your garden. The adult cabbage worm butterflies won’t be able to reach the plants to lay the eggs, which means no cabbage worms for your garden.
Who doesn’t love a flock of chickens? If you let your chickens out in your garden, they’ll quickly find the cabbage worms and eat them off of the plant. If you needed an excuse to get chickens, you found it!
Dust With Cornmeal
Cornmeal is a great, natural method for destroying cabbage worms. All you have to do is dust your plants with cornmeal. Then, the cabbage worms eat the cornmeal, swell up, and die. If you don’t have cornmeal, you can try all-purpose flour, but cornmeal is very effective.
Spray with Tansy Oil
Tansy oil deters the cabbage worms from laying eggs on your cabbage plant. It isn’t a perfect solution, and it won’t deter all of the worms. However, using it will help stop the cycle. If you don’t want to spray with tansy oil, plant tansy nearby using the companion method which happens to be our next method for getting rid of these worms!
Use Companion Planting Method
Companion planting is a preventative method to use at the start of your growing season. Plant pest-repelling plants alongside the plants that might attract plants. Thyme and mint deter many different pests.
Create a Natural Repellent Spray
You can create your own repelling spray using natural ingredients. Garlic, pepper, and cayenne pepper are a few ingredients that deter pests. Mix these ingredients in water, and spray on the underside of the leaves on your plant.
Another choice is to make a spray with ¼ cup vinegar to ¾ cup water and 1 TSP of dish soap. Dish soap will stick to the leaves, preventing the butterflies from laying eggs. Make sure you spray on the top and bottom of the leaves.
Cabbage worms don’t like the taste of citrus, so use that to your advantage. Grind up rinds and seeds up citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Soak in two cups of water overnight. Strain it, and add 2 TSP of dish soap. The worms will hate it!
Everyone has a natural spray that they swear works. Mix ½ cup dish soap, ½ cup molasses, ½ cup fish emulsion (available at your local garden store), a gallon of water and a can of beer. Yes, some gardeners swear by this mixture! Figuring out what works for you is trial and error, so try one or several throughout the year.
Bring in Beneficial Insects
Some insects are beneficial to your garden. Introducing natural predators of the cabbage worms to your garden is a sustainable way to eliminate predators. Some options are ground beetles, praying mantis, and spiders. Try attracting other predators, like birds!
Introducing Trichogramma wasps at the beginning of the growing season will help keep cabbage worms away. These wasps are very tiny and don’t sting humans. Instead, they are a parasite to the eggs of the cabbage worm. You can purchase these online and have them mailed to you.
Dealing with Cabbage Worms
All gardeners will encounter cabbage worms at some point. Using prevention methods, like companion planting and beneficial insects, will help to decrease the amount that invades your garden. Then, you want to have a few natural methods in your arsenal of tactics to use against these pests. By using a few of these tips, the cabbage worms won’t stand a chance in your garden.
Real picture from my garden