Cabbage Worm Poop for Identification and Control of Cabbage Worms.

Cabbage worm poop is a signifier of the presence of cabbage worms, one of the pests that every gardener often wishes won’t be in their garden patches, in your garden. Wherever there are green vegetables, such as cabbage, you’ll find pests that love them, such as cabbage worms, and they perforate the leaves and create holes in the stems of the plant.

Cabbage worms are green larvae of adult moths and butterflies that feed on cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, and radishes. They cause damage to these plants by boring holes in their leaves and stems. Sometimes, they remain on the plant when harvested and you can find them in your cooked vegetables. However, you can control them using some organic and environmentally-friendly methods.

Green Cabbage Worm
Green Cabbage Worm

This piece will help you to easily identify cabbage worms in your garden. You’ll also know when it’s time to put their population under control through the extent of damage they’ve caused. Ultimately, you’ll get the best methods to control cabbage worms in your garden.

What are Cabbage Worms?

If you’ve noticed any green worm, whether smooth or striped, on crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, or radish, you’ve probably seen a cabbage worm. Generally, they’re green and smooth and vary in size. However, there are differences among the four Lepidoptera worms.

  • The Cabbage Looper named appropriately for the arch it creates when it crawls, is green, smooth, and has white strips. It is a highly destructive worm that devors leaves of crops ranging from cabbage to tomatoes, and potatoes.
  • The larva of the small white cosmopolitan butterfly is bright green and has short fur. You’ll find it majorly on cole crops.
  • The worm of the diamondback moth is smooth, solid green, and sensitive to the touch. When it’s young, it mines the leaves of cole crops by chewing the parenchyma on the outer surface of the leaves. However, when they get older, they bore through the leaves completely.
  • The Cabbage Webworm is predominant in Europe but they are also found in Asia. Its larva feeds on crops on the Brassica crop, such as broccoli, cabbage, and radish. You’ll find them boring into stems and mining leaves and leaf stems. They’re usually recognized by the web of silk that they make around their feeding area.

Cabbage worms are generally destructive and therefore their population should be reduced in your garden if you want to make any reasonable harvest.

How long do Cabbage Worms Last?

Many gardeners are torn between taking drastic action against cabbage worms, despite their voracity, because they don’t stay long as larvas. However, their voracity in the time between their larval and pupal stage can cause you to have no harvest from your garden.

Cabbage worms require an average of three to six weeks to complete their life cycle. However, they spend an average of 15 days in their larval stage. The larval stage of cabbage worms is divided into five instars (stages of larval development), and the duration of each instar depends on the prevailing temperature, with their shortest time usually recorded around August.

How Do You Know if You Have Cabbage Worms?

The signs that tell of the presence of cabbage worms in your garden are seen on the host plants, and they include:

Damage to the host plant

The host plant to cabbage worms include plants such as potatoes and tomatoes. However, they’re primarily found in kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, among others. The telling signs of the presence of cabbage worms in your garden are the damage they do to these crops’ stems and leaves.

cabbage worm damage to host plant
cabbage worm damage to host plant

Your cabbage leaves will show mining actions in their upper layers. You’ll notice that the leaves’ surfaces have been chewed but not to their other sides; this is common during the early stages of larval development. However, when they grow older, usually in the third to fifth instars, the leaves are bored. You’ll also notice this boring action on the stems of your crops.

Presence of Cabbage Worm Poop on the host plant

Some cabbage worms, especially the cabbage webworm, make webs on their feeding site – the leaves and leaves’ stems – to collect frass. Cabbage worm poop, or frass, is small, green, and somewhat dusty. Sometimes, they’re small balls of green that you find close to the damaged spots on your crops’ leaves or underneath them.

Cabbage worm poop
Cabbage worm poop

The more cabbage worm poop you find on your crops, the more larva infestation you have in your garden.

Sighting cabbage worms

While it’s difficult to see cabbage worms, you can find them if you’re determined to eradicate them from your garden. During the day, they’re usually found on the underside of crops’ leaves. You can also find them in the folds and crevices of leaves. They blend easily with leaves’ color and, added to their smallness and their time of activity – at night, can be challenging to sight.

However, if you find any small, green, worm on your cole crops, and there is greenish poop around damaged leaves parts or its underside, there’s a high chance it’s a cabbage worm.

How Do You Prevent Cabbage Worms?

Cabbage worms can hardly be prevented from getting into your garden. Generally, moths and butterflies are essential to the growth of plants, as they help in pollination. However, cabbages, kales, broccolis, and other cole crops don’t require pollination to provide their values.

Therefore, you can prevent cabbage worms by curbing moths and butterflies’ contact with your cole crops through the use of Row Covers.

Using Row Covers to Prevent Cabbage Worms

Row covers are used to cover crops from coming in contact with insects to reduce the occurrence of diseases carried by these insects, and damages caused by insect pests. Cabbage worms come about from the eggs that moths and butterflies lay on crops. When the eggs hatch, they produce larvas, which is the most voracious stage of insects.

Therefore, covering your cabbages, broccolis, kales, and other crops with row covers will help you prevent damage to your crops and dealing with hundreds or thousands of cabbage worms.

Growing Cabbage Indoors

Another way to prevent your cabbage from harboring cabbage worms is to grow them indoors. Gardening in an apartment allows you to grow cole crops such as cabbage under conditions that are suitable for them. you also get to protect them from getting moths and butterflies from landing on them.

How Do You Get Rid of Cabbage Worms?

There are different approaches to getting rid of cabbage worms and they include organic, biological, and inorganic approaches.

Organic Control of Cabbage Worms

The most advisable means of controlling the population of cabbage worms in your garden is through the organic approach. It is effective and safe for other insects that are beneficial to the plants in your garden. The organic approaches to controlling cabbage worms include:

Using Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occurring bacteria that prevents larvae of moths and butterflies from eating. It is effective in stopping the growth of larvae and the damage they cause to your garden crops.

BT, as it is sometimes called, is non-toxic to humans and it doesn’t pose any threat to adult insects. It also degrades easily in the soil and causes no environmental problems. It is available as a concentrate and premixed options are available. Purchase one and use them as instructed on the bottle.

Spraying plants with Neem Oil

Neem oil is an organic oil that is extracted from Neem plants. It is an effective insecticide against pests such as whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, and thrips. It works by interfering with their reproduction and food digestion. However, it doesn’t kill cabbage worms.

Neem oil serves as a repellent to cabbage moths and mosquitoes. To get success in controlling the population of cabbage worms on your cabbage, routinely spray diluted neem oil solution on your crops to make them unattractive to cabbage moths.

Biological Control of Cabbage Worms

You can control cabbage worms by employing any of these biological approaches.

Introducing natural enemies

Natural enemies of cabbage worms include carnivorous insects and parasitic wasps. Insects such as dragonflies, wasps, mantids, and spiders, among others feed on other insects, usually in all their stages of development.

Parasitic wasps
Parasitic wasps

Parasitic wasps are particularly fond of eating larvae. They’re, therefore, a great way to biologically control the population of cabbage worms in your garden. However, ensure that the insects you introduce aren’t vectors of diseases that may affect your garden plants.

Practice Polyculture and Companion Planting

Plant different plants in your garden to give insects and worms different crops to be attracted to. Cabbage worms aren’t attracted to cabbages alone. Some of them will feed on potato leaves. Therefore plant crops that are different as companions. In some cases, certain plants, such as thyme and oregano, repel cabbage moths and prevent them from laying eggs that develop into larvae.

In other cases, some crops, such as Nasturtiums, act as trap crops, diverting the attention of cabbage worms from your brassica crops to themselves.

Physical Control of Cabbage Worms

You can also eliminate cabbage worms from your garden by employing a physical approach.

Hand-picking cabbage worms

You can go hunting for cabbage worms at night when they’re most active, or during the day, when they’re hiding in the crevices of plants’ leaves.

Pick as many worms as you can get and crush them. This is usually the first thing to do when looking to control the population of cabbage worms in your garden.

Final Thought

Cabbage worms are generally soft and green. They feed on the leaves and stems of brassica crops, although they also feed on tomato and potato leaves. Cabbage worm poop and the type of damage they cause to your garden plants are the best ways to recognize them. You can control the population of cabbage worms in your garden by using any or a combination of the approaches provided above for sustainable gardening.

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