cabbage worms  

cabbage worms

by Justin
(Blacksburg, VA)

Holes in my kale

Holes in my kale

Holes in my kale Cabbage moth Cabbage worm Kale

Hello! I recently planted some Kale, and I've noticed some holes are appearing in the leaves of some of my kale (not all). I've attached a picture. What can I do to get rid of them in a sustainable way?

Greetings Justin
I think you are having a problem with the cabbage worm but your picture is a little vague so I have added a couple pictures and a description, of the bugs that may be bugging you.
Let me know if you see any of these worms or butterflies in your garden.

If you have the cabbage worm they are easy to find, look on the underside of your leaves.
Cabbage worms are 1 to 1 1/4-inch light green caterpillar with one yellow stripe. It chews foliage, and produces soft green excrement. Its bullet-shaped whitish yellow eggs are laid singly on leaves. The adult is a white day-flying butterfly with three to four black spots on its wings. It over-winters as a pupa in the soil. Several generations occur each year and your problem should subside in the cooler weather of fall.

The easiest way to control the cabbage worm in a small garden is to check along the stems and between leaves for the gelatinous eggs and green caterpillars. They are easy to find and pick off. You can feed them to your chickens or kill them and put them in your compost.

You can also use parasitic wasps, ground beetles, soldier bugs and lace wings which are all natural predators of the cabbage worm and moth. You may need to tolerate a little damage to avoid using pesticides but it is well worth it and you can still eat the leaves even with the holes.

You can also use biological controls with Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt, sold as Dipel or Thuricide. The Bt bacteria kills only true caterpillars and is safe for people, pets, wildlife and other types of insects.

You can also prevent damage by covering your plants with a floating row cover sold as ReeMay. These polypropylene fabrics allow air, light and water through, but prevent the butterflies and moths from laying their eggs on the plants.

Let me know how your kale grows and if you are able to stop the chewers and harvest the beautiful kale you have planted.

Good Luck
Farmer Dave

Comments for
cabbage worms

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by: Anonymous

When is it safe to remove row covers from cabbage plants?

You can remove row covers when your plants start pushing it up and you don't see the cabbage moths. Most of the time cabbage moths are not a big problem in my garden if I see them or their damage I just pick off the caterpillars, and kill the moths if I see them. Using row covers in extreme cases is good.

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