How to Control Cabbage Worms


Cabbage worms are destructive garden pests that are actually caterpillars. They eat the leaves of cabbage, kale, broccoli and many other leafy vegetables. Three basic types of cabbage pests exist: cabbageworms, diamondback moths and cabbage loopers. Since they quickly reproduce and destroy crops, controlling them is important to save the vegetable plants. Using multiple control methods ensures the plants are ready to eat when ripe.

Things You'll Need

  • Floating row covers
  • Garden gloves
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Garden sprayer
  • Insecticide with Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Purchase and install floating row covers over all of the vegetables in the garden, not just the ones currently infected. Row covers are long, domed tubes that you simply sit on top of the vegetables. These prevent further infestation from occurring, and control the current population of worms.

  • Examine the plants in the very early morning as soon as the sun rises. Put on garden gloves and pick off as many of the worms as you see crawling over the leaves. Drop them into a bucket of water until they die, and then discard the water.

  • Fill a garden sprayer with an insecticide that contains Bacillus thuringiensis, proven effective against cabbage worms. Spray the tops and bottoms of all plant leaves with the spray until soaked. The adult worms eat the leaves and then die.

  • Pull up cabbage or other leafy vegetables starting to die, since cabbage worms often lay eggs in them. Also, discard all of the current crop at the end of the year, instead of leaving it in place over the winter

Tips & Warnings

  • Always rotate crops, planting them in different areas of the garden each year. This reduces the chances of another cabbage worm infestation in the future.

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