If you are growing cabbage in your vegetable garden, you might have seen small green worms that blend in with the cabbage plant. These are called cabbageworms and can do a lot of damage to your growing cabbage. Here are some things to know about the pesky pests, including how to gain more control over them.
They Can Attack All Vegetables in the Cabbage Family
While they are called cabbageworms and are often seen on the traditional green cabbage you consider when you hear the term, they can actually attack all vegetables of this family. For example, broccoli and cauliflower also belongs to the cabbage vegetable family, so you may see the worms on these plants as well. You also need to be concerned about kale, which is also part of the same vegetable family. You will see the worms either on the growing product, the plant stems, or the leaves. They can blend in quite well, so you need to examine the plants closely. You're actually in luck if they only go on the leaves because it won't damage the vegetables themselves.
Older Worms Damage the Plant Itself
The best thing you can do when you suspect cabbageworms is to get them while they are still in the larval stage. This is when they only attack the leaves, so they are relatively harmless. However, if you don't catch them in time and they turn into adult cabbageworms, they can make their way to the vegetables and dig holes in them. When they do this, they tend to leave fecal matter inside the vegetable and contaminate it. You will need to cut these vegetables and throw them away since they are not safe to consume. If you see small holes in the vegetables or dark green pellets, they are from cabbageworms.
Controlling Cabbageworms Varies by the Season
When it comes to controlling the cabbageworms, the best way to get rid of them is by considering what season you are in. If you are near the beginning of the growing season, you can start by allowing for creatures that tend to kill cabbageworms, such as yellow jackets, parasitic wasps, and beetles. Don't try to kill these pests in your garden since they are going to attack the plant-eating worms. You can also use floating row covers over the cabbage plants since this keeps the adults from laying eggs on the plants.
During the late growing season, chickens and ducks in your yard are great for eating the cabbageworms. If you have a chicken coop, consider letting them out periodically for exercise and to eat the worms at their leisure. You can also use insecticides, but choose botanical and natural ones so the vegetables are still edible. Yellow sticky traps can also be used to trap the adult worms.
For more information, contact a pest control service near you.