Green worms on broccoli

Life lessons learned from Pretty Woman

Twenty five years ago today Pretty Woman strutted its way onto cinema screens. Sure, it had the traditional rom-com formula – girl meets guy, girl falls in love with guy, lives happily ever after – but throw in Julia Roberts as a prostitute and Richard Gere as the loveable rich bloke who actually asks for directions and you have a box office smash hit.

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Two and a half decades on, this film still ticks all the right boxes for chick flick lovers and there’s plenty to be learned from Vivian and Edward…

Stuck with all those forks at a fancy dinner? Count the tines. Four means dinner. Three means salad.

Always carry sachets of ketchup. God only knows when someone will order you snails for your meal *shudders*.

… ps. snails are slippery little suckers and will fly off your plate if you’re not careful.

Alone in a hotel room? Always run and dive on the bed. Always.

Laugh like Julia Roberts. It’s adorable.

Carry dental floss. You shouldn’t neglect your gums. Strawberries and champagne may seem romantic, but a mouth full of pips is no fun for anybody.

Always sing along to Prince in the bath. Out of tune is A-OK. Who can hit those high notes, really?

The length of your foot is the same as from your elbow to your wrist. You’re trying it right now, aren’t you?

Vegging out means to be still like vegetables or, in Vivian’s words, to “lay like broccoli”.

When someone asks you if you liked the opera, they’re not asking about your bladder.

If you think your opera binoculars are broken, check you’re holding them the right way up.

There’s a right and a wrong way to cheer at polo.

Think the good girl never makes it? Just remember Cinder-f***ing-ella.

Shop staff aren’t nice to people, they’re only nice to credit cards.

… but when they refuse to serve you, make sure you go back to prove it was a “big mistake”. Preferably while wielding enough bags of clothes to see you through the next decade.

If you spend an obscene amount of money in a shop, the staff will give you anything. Including the tie they’re wearing.

Stressful day? Take off your shoes at lunch and pad about in the grass. It makes you see sense.

Wait for the fairytale.

And if your man’s holding a jewellery box, mind your fingers.

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See the cast of Pretty Woman reunite for the 25th anniversary

Pretty Woman

Edward Lewis: It’s just that, uh, very few people surprise me.
Vivian: Yeah, well, you’re lucky. Most of ’em shock the hell outta me.

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Vivian: Don’t you just love Prince?
Edward Lewis: More than life itself.

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When I was a little girl, my mama used to lock me in the attic when I was bad, which was pretty often. And I would- I would pretend I was a princess… trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me. But never in all the time… that I had this dream did the knight say to me, “Come on, baby, I’ll put you up in a great condo.”

Vivian

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Edward Lewis: 6 nights at $300 is $1800
Vivian: You want days too.
Edward Lewis: $2000.
Vivian: $3000.
Edward Lewis: Done.

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Did I mention, my leg is 44″ from hip to toe. So basically we are talking about 88″ of therapy, wrapped around you for the bargain price of $3000.

Vivian

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Impossible relationships. My special gift is impossible relationships.

Edward Lewis

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Well, color me happy! There’s a sofa in here for two!

Vivian

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I want the fairy tale.

Vivian

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Vivian: Are you sure you want me to stay the night? I mean, I could just pop ya real good and get outta here.
Edward Lewis: No, I’d really like you to stay. I don’t want to be alone tonight.
Vivian: Is it your birthday?
Edward Lewis: No, no. Not my birthday.
Vivian: Oh. ‘Cause you know, I’ve been the surprise at a lot of birthday parties.
Edward Lewis: I’ll bet you have.

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Edward Lewis: What’s your name?
Vivian: What do you want it to be?

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Edward Lewis: You can’t charge me for directions!
Vivian: I can do anything I want to baby, I ain’t lost.

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  • Added: December 06, 2007

Here at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we love worms and value them for all they do for organic gardening, house plants and our ecosystem.

Our famous Red Wigglers are amazing composters that will turn any ordinary garden into a beautiful lush that produces much bigger and healthier looking foods.

However, not all worms are beneficial for us. Some of the worms we encounter can be harmful if touched or ingested. It’s important to know the differences between good and bad worms to keep you and your pets out of trouble.

Good Worms

Most worms you’ll encounter won’t pose any threat to you or your pets. These include earthworms, redworms, nightcrawlers and more. We recommend buying a worm identification guide so that when you do come across an unusual looking specimen (aren’t all worms unusual looking?) that causes you to have concern, you can refer to your guide and find out if it’s something you need to be worried about or not.

Good worms clean up soil by consuming organic matter. Furthermore, they make soil fertile. They create pathways in soil that helps oxygen and water reach plant roots! Good worms are vital to our ecosystem!

Harmful Worms

Just like there are a lot of good worms out there, there are a lot of harmful worms too.

Nematodes are one of the most numerous animals on the planet. They are tiny creatures that typically grow to about 1 millimeter long, and for that reason, they are hard to spot with the naked eye. However, huge numbers of nematodes can be found in soil. Some are good and some are bad. The good ones are predatory and prey on other invertebrate pests including parasitic nematodes.

Bad nematodes are parasitic and can inflict just about any animal including humans, pets and marine wildlife such as whales. Did you know that a 26 foot long nematode was once found in a Sperm whale? Some of the more common parasitic nematodes that we know of include roundworms, hookworms and heartworms. These worms can be seriously harmful to your liver if they grow and multiply for long periods of time.

Flatworms are another type of worm that has both beneficial and harmful species. Some are predatory and others are parasitic. The most commonly known parasitic flatworm is the tapeworm. Tapeworms dwell in the intestines of animals and live off of food that passes through the digestive tracts. In land animals, tapeworms are known to grow up to 65 feet in length. In marine animals like whales, they have been recorded growing up to 100 feet in length!

Insect larvae are often considered worms. Inchworms and cankerworms (moth larvae) are destructive to crops and considered a pest by many farmers and organic gardeners.

Bristle worms are perhaps the most commonly seen marine worm. One of the easiest ways to distinguish a bristle worm is the prominent bristles that protrude off their bodies. One harmful kind of bristle worm is the fireworm, which is harmful to aquariums and to human health. They have hundreds of sharp fiberglass-like bristles that can poke you and it will hurt! Not all bristle worms are bad. Some of the smaller ones are actually very beneficial to aquariums. It’s up to you to identify them so that you know what you’re up against.

Avoiding Harmful Parasites

One of the most common ways people and their pets are introduced to parasites is through infected fleas and rodents. These inflected animals can pass a parasitic worm on to your pet and from your pet to you. It’s important to have your pets checked on a regular basis for fleas so that you can eliminate the problem before it starts. All it takes is a few fleas to leap off your pet onto your dinner plate and you may find yourself in a lot of discomfort shortly thereafter!

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is a vermicomposting company located in the USA. The above image is not our own. The above facts and information was gathered to spread awareness about the beneficial and harmful effects that come to us through different species of worms.

If you grow broccoli organically you’ve encountered broccoli worms at some time in your gardening career. If you buy organic broccoli at the farmer’s market you might even find them hiding among the flowers. But broccoli worms don’t need to turn you off broccoli forever. There are a few things you can do in the garden to prevent cabbage butterflies from infesting your food with their offspring. But if all else fails, here’s how to make sure you don’t serve broccoli worms with dinner.

My kids are pretty squeamish about eating bugs. That has sometimes meant that they are totally traumatized when I serve home grown veggies. One son has post traumatic stress when it comes to eating broccoli — flashbacks to the day that I served him home grown broccoli, microwaved, and he watched, in horror, as a single, sickly green broccoli worm slowly inched its way out of the “tree” on his plate. I stopped using a microwave for cooking a few years ago.

This is the cabbage white butterfly, the most likely garden visitor to lay eggs on your broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage.

BT spray?

When you grow broccoli organically you get white and sulphur cabbage butterflies laying their eggs on the plants. These eat the leaves and turn into little green or yellow worms. The color of the offspring vary depending on where you live.

You could spray with BT to kill the bugs, but that leaves a residue on the plant. You have a lot of BT already in your stomach if you have ever eaten GM food, so avoid adding more if you can. We are learning that BT isn’t as benign as was once believed. If I see a green or yellow caterpillar on a plant I hand pick it, squish it between my fingers and drop it on the soil. But with broccoli and cauliflower the little green worms are hidden in the florets. I just harvest the broccoli and deal with the little green caterpillars after harvest.

Soak the bugs out after harvest

To draw the “broccoli worms” out of the broccoli trees, you need to soak it in a sink of cold water to which you’ve added 1/4 cup of salt and 2 tbsp of vinegar. You will need to keep the broccoli heads submerged in the water for at least 20 minutes. Weighing them down with a plate to keep them under water can help.

Mega-Fail Mother

Failure to take this step will result in little green worms crawling out of your broccoli and onto your plate during a meal — if you eat your broccoli cold. Or if you microwave your broccoli, the worms get a sickly green colour and crawl out of your broccoli. If you boil your broccoli till its bright, deep green before serving — it kills the worms and you can hand pick them out of your “trees” before eating. Vegans won’t want to eat organic broccoli. Omnivores might just eat the broccoli worms and all.

Failure to take this precaution can spoil broccoli for your kids and make chemically sprayed, store-bought broccoli more desirable than home grown. To this day, my eldest cannot eat broccoli. If only I had known then, what I know now — submerge broccoli at least 20 min and up to 1 hour in a sink of cold water to which you have added 1/4 c. of salt and 2 tbsp. of vinegar. The worms are immobilized and slide out of the broccoli.

This works for cauliflower and cabbage, too.

If you’d rather use an organic insecticide to combat the cabbage worms before harvest, there are several herbal options. Most combine natural soap (not detergent), strong smelling herbs like hot peppers, and wormwood plus garlic.

Recipe: Herbal insecticide for caterpillars (makes 1 litre)

Soak four garlic cloves for several days in one litre of cold water and then blend. This will kill ants, aphids, caterpillars and cabbage worms. A stronger brew can be made by using hot water and adding several hot peppers, ground up. If wormwood grows where you live, add a few sprigs of wormwood, too, and blend well. Once blended, add two tablespoons of grated pure soap to help the spray stick. Use spray when solution has cooled . Spray the leaves of plants when they are young and when you see cabbage butterfly activity. Make sure you apply to the underside of leaves, as well. Reapply after rains or after watering, when you notice butterfly activity.

Wash off the solution before eating the broccoli.

An even better tip!

Predatory wasps lay their eggs on the backs of cabbage butterfly larvae. When the wasp eggs hatch the predatory wasp larvae burrow into the flesh of the caterpillars and consume them. (Nature is violent!). You can encourage predatory wasps in your garden by planting dill and fennel around and in your cabbage and broccoli. Using this trick may even give you broccoli that is entirely free of cabbage moth caterpillars. And you get dill to eat, too. (You might want to Pin this tip.)

A recap

The Cabbage Butterfly, also called the White Cabbage Moth lays its eggs on broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other plants in the Kole family. The green or yellow worms consume the leaves of the plants and hide in the tight florets and wrapped leaves of the vegetables.

Planting dill will encourage predatory moths and cut short the life span of the worms. Spraying with organic spray will kill them on your plants. If all else fails, soaking the produce in salt and vinegar before cooking will dislodge them from the vegetables, allowing you to serve broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage without broccoli worms.

Don’t give up organic gardening because of the pests. You’ve got this.

Learn more about pest-free organic gardening from Joybilee Farm

DIY Insecticidal Soap Spray for Trees and Shrubs

Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants

Companion Planting

Have the leafy greens in your garden ever looked like this, with tiny holes eaten out of the leaves?

A few weeks ago, I was greeted by this sight in my vegetable garden. Almost all of my lettuce plants had small holes eaten out of them. In addition, the leaves of my broccoli, cauliflower and kale had the same problem.

These small holes are telltale signs of the cabbage worm. Actually, the are several insects that cause this type of damage and are generally referred to as ‘cabbage worms’. This includes the imported cabbage worm, the diamondback caterpillar and cabbage looper. The cabbage worm will eventually become a butterfly, while the diamondback caterpillar and cabbage looper will become moths.

The adults come and lay their eggs on the leaves of cabbage, leaf lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and kale and other leafy greens. The eggs quickly hatch and the young caterpillars start feeding. They are usually more prevalent in late summer and fall then in the spring.

So, what can you do if you are seeing small holes on your leafy greens?

The best thing to do is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place by covering your leafy greens once sown or planted from transplants using a floating cover. But, since I already have an infestation, I need to resort to other methods.

– Spraying leaves with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) will work and is an organic solution.

– Plant resistant varieties such as red-colored leafy greens, which the cabbage worm tend to avoid.

– Introduce natural predators of the cabbage worm such as larvae of Trichogramma wasps, which devour the eggs before they hatch.

-Plant your leafy greens in spring, rather then in late summer/fall when the cabbage worm is not as active.

– Sprinkle diamotacious earth on and around each plant, which is a powder made up of the tiny, fossilized remains of aquatic organisms. These tiny fossils have sharp edges that puncture the outer skin of insects, which leads to their death. This is also an organic solution. Wash off your leafy greens before eating, which will get rid of any remaining traces of the diamotacious earth. For more information on how to use diamotacious earth, click here.

So, which solution did I choose for my vegetable garden?

I chose to use diamotacious earth because I already had some.

I filled a unused spice jar with wide holes with the diamotacious earth and sprinkled it over and around my leafy greens.

I like to use organic solutions whenever possible when I garden. But, next year, I plan to use floating covers to keep them from laying eggs in the first place.

My fellow blogger, Jill, wrote a great article about cabbage worms (caterpillars) and has a few other options to try to keep them from bothering your leafy greens.

Have you ever had problems with cabbage worms eating your greens? What has worked best for you?

Worms In Broccoli – Caterpillars In The Broccoli Head

Although broccoli is one of the few plants least affected by pests, especially during fall, it is not uncommon to occasionally find worms on broccoli heads. If left unprotected, these broccoli worms can wreak havoc on your plants.

Types of Broccoli Worms

Broccoli worms feed on cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, in addition to broccoli. They usually prefer the undersides of plants, chewing holes and eating their way into the heads from the bottom. There are generally three types of worms in broccoli:

  • Cabbage worms, which are velvety green caterpillars (larvae of white butterflies)
  • Cabbage loopers, which are smooth and light green (larvae of brown moths)
  • Diamondback worms, which are smaller in size and pale green in color (larvae of gray moths with diamond shape on back)

All broccoli worms are difficult to see, as they blend in easily with the green plants. However, the presence of white butterflies in the afternoon or moths in the evening can signal the beginning of an infestation, as they will lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. Once present, worms on broccoli can completely defoliate plants.

Remove Worms from Broccoli

Worms in broccoli don’t have to be a problem. Nearly all broccoli worms can be controlled by using products containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This bacterium makes worms sick, eventually killing them; however, it is perfectly safe for plants, humans and other beneficial insects. Bt is available at most garden centers and is best used in the afternoon. To effectively remove worms from broccoli, spray broccoli plants thoroughly using about 1 to 2 teaspoons (5-10 mL.) of liquid detergent per gallon (3.8 L.) of Bt.

Preventing Broccoli Pests

One of the best ways to prevent broccoli pests from attacking your crop is through the use of row covers. Row covers provide adequate protection from most types of broccoli pests, especially during spring and summer when they are most prevalent.

To prevent broccoli worms from burrowing into the heads, try placing the entire head in pantyhose or other suitable nylon stocking until ready for harvesting.

In addition to worms on broccoli, other broccoli pests may be found. These include:

  • Flea beetles
  • Aphids
  • Slugs
  • Mites
  • Harlequin bugs

Many of these can be easily controlled through hand picking or spraying with insecticidal soaps.

The best defense against broccoli worms and other pests is to continually inspect plants for signs of infestation.

Controlling cabbage worms can be a constant battle for many home gardeners. In this post, you’ll learn all about their life cycle, feeding habits, the damage they cause, how to identify them, and where they come from. Plus I’ll share tons of tips and methods to help you get rid of cabbage worms in your garden.

Cabbage worms are a huge problem for many gardeners, and they can be very destructive little buggers. But there’s no reason to reach for the toxic chemical pesticides to get rid of cabbage worms!

Once you understand how they multiply, the plants they love the best, where they come from, what they look like, and the signs to look out for, it will be much easier to control cabbage worms.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide for controlling cabbage worms…

  • What Causes Holes In Cabbage Leaves?
  • What Are Imported Cabbage Worms?
  • What Do They Look Like?
  • Cabbage Worm Life Cycle
  • Where Do They Come From?
  • What Do They Eat?
  • Damage To Plants
  • How To Get Rid Of Them Naturally
  • Organic Treatment Methods
    • Hand Picking
    • Neem Oil
    • Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)
    • Insecticidal Soap
  • How To Prevent Cabbage Worms
    • Row Covers
    • Beneficial Predators
    • Destroy Cabbage Worm Pupae
  • FAQs
    • How do you get rid of worms in cabbage before cooking?
    • How do you kill cabbage worms?
    • What eats cabbage worms?
    • What can I spray on my cabbage plants to keep bugs off?
    • Are cabbage worms poisonous?

What Causes Holes In Cabbage Leaves?

If you see holes in the leaves of your cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or any other plant in the cabbage family, it’s a sure bet that pesky caterpillars are the culprit.

There are actually a few types of bugs that mainly feed on the plants in the brassicaceae family. The most common ones are the imported cabbage worm, cabbage loopers, and the diamond back moth.

You may have one of these pests in your garden or a mix of them, depending on where you live. Here a quick summary so you can figure out what is eating your cabbage plant leaves…

  • Imported Cabbage Worms – The main pest that feeds on the cole crops in my garden are the imported cabbage worm. They are green caterpillars that have legs along their entire body, and stay flat when the crawl. The adult butterfly is white with a few small black spots on their wings.
  • Cabbage Loopers – The cabbage looper caterpillars are also green. They look similar to cabbage worms, but they are slightly larger. They also have less legs, and move like an inchworm, making a small loop shape with their bodies. The adult moth is brown with a cluster of small white spots on each wing.
  • Diamondback Moths – Though much less common, diamondback moths also favor cruciferous vegetables. Their larvae are also green caterpillars, but will curl up and drop from the plant when disturbed, many times hanging from a thread of silk. The adult moth is brown, and commonly has a diamond shaped pattern across their back.

Since they all look so similar, many people mistaken cabbage loopers and diamondback moth larvae for cabbage worms. Though these aren’t all the same bugs, their lifecycles, eating habits, and damage to plants are the same.

In this post, I will focus on the imported cabbage worm. But all of the organic cabbage worm control tips I mention will work just as well for cabbage loopers and diamond back moth caterpillars too.

What Are Imported Cabbage Worms?

Imported cabbage worms are common pests of plants in the brassicacea family, and they can be very destructive. They are the larvae of a butterfly called “cabbage whites”, “cabbage white butterfly”, or “small whites”.

They get their common name, “cabbage worm”, because they prefer eating crops in the cabbage family. Cruciferous vegetables are their main host plant.

Green worm destroying a small cabbage head

What Do Cabbage Worms Look Like?

Cabbage worms are small, green caterpillars that start out tiny, and grow to be about an inch long. They’re soft green in color, covered in tiny hairs, and have a faint yellow line running down their back and sides.

They have legs all along their body, so their bodies stay flat when they crawl. If the green caterpillars on your cole crops bend their backs up when they crawl, then those are cabbage loopers instead.

In their adult form, cabbage worms are small white moths with a wingspan of only about 1.5 – 2 inches. They have a couple of black or brown spots on the wings, and can also appear to be pale yellow or light tan in color.

Baby cabbage worm eating a hole in a leaf (15x magnification)

Cabbage Worm Life Cycle

Understanding their life cycle is important to help you get rid of cabbage worms. They hibernate through the winter as pupae, and emerge as adults in the spring. Shortly after emerging, the female butterfly will start laying her eggs.

Cabbage worm butterflies look harmless, and they are. In fact, they actually look really beautiful as they flutter and float around the garden. However, once you realize why they’re fluttering around (they’re laying eggs), they don’t look so pretty anymore.

Adult females lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves and, after a few days, tiny baby caterpillars emerge to start feeding on the plant. Cabbage worm eggs can be white, yellow or even green, and are so tiny they’re barely visible to the naked eye.

After about 3 to 4 weeks, once the caterpillars are full-sized, they will stop feeding to pupate. At this point, cabbage worms form cocoons (called a chrysalid) on the undersides of leaves. New adults will emerge from the chrysalis in about 10 days. There can be multiple generations in one season.

Cabbage caterpillar cocoon chrysalid

Where Do Cabbage Worms Come From?

Since the adults can fly, cabbage worms could come from anywhere. They are naturally attracted to cole crops, since that’s their main host plant.

So, if cabbage white butterflies are present in your area of the world, and you’re growing cruciferous veggies, then it’s a sure bet they’ll find your garden.

What Do Cabbage Worm Caterpillars Eat?

The main host plant for cabbage white butterflies are plants in the brassicaceae family. So, you can find the caterpillars feeding on any type of cruciferous vegetable plant.

Examples of popular crucifers are cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, radishes, and collard greens.

But, they can feed on other plants too. It’s not uncommon to find cabbage worms on other types of vegetables, and sometimes even flowers (they love my nasturtiums).

Cabbage worm caterpillar on purple cauliflower

What Does Cabbage Worm Damage Look Like?

The first signs of damage you’ll probably notice will be holes in cabbage plant leaves (or kale, broccoli, cauliflower…etc). Cabbage worms eat uniform holes in the leaves between the veins and stems.

At their worst, they can completely skeletonize the leaves. Large populations can defoliate a plant very quickly, especially seedlings and small plants.

Unfortunately, they can also feed on the heads of cole crops like cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or broccoli too. The caterpillars will sometimes even bore into the heads, causing major damage to your crops.

Holes in brussels sprout leaves

How To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms Naturally

Established plants can withstand some cabbage worm damage without worry. But the caterpillar population can grow very quickly, and will begin causing severe damage to plants.

When plants are severely damaged, it can stunt their growth, and they may not produce a head. Plus, leafy harvests will be destroyed. So, once you start seeing holes in the leaves, you’ll want to take swift action to get rid of cabbage worms.

The great news is that there are several organic methods you can use for controlling cabbage worms. So you won’t have to worry about using any toxic chemical pesticides on your vegetables.

Methods For Controlling Cabbage Worms Organically

Below I will talk in detail about the most effective natural methods for controlling cabbage worms. Keep in mind that it will take more than one treatment to get them under control, so it’s important to be persistent.

By the way, these methods also work for getting rid of cabbage loopers and the diamondback moth larvae too. So, you can use them no matter which type of caterpillar is eating your crucifers. Here’s how to get rid of cabbage worms naturally…

Related Post: Natural Garden Pest Control Remedies And Recipes

Hand Pick The Caterpillars Off Plants

One of the best, most natural ways for treating cabbage worms on your plants is to hand pick them. This sounds like a lot of work, and it can be at first. But if you’re diligent, the problem will go away pretty quickly.

They are really good at camouflage. They’re almost the same color, and tend to feed on the undersides of the leaves. So it can be difficult to spot them at first – especially when they are tiny baby caterpillars.

You’ll probably see their frass (aka poop) before you find the caterpillars. Cabbage worm poop looks like green sawdust or small green balls near the holes in a plant, or on the leaves below. Flip the holy leaf over, and you’ll likely find the culprit(s).

They don’t bite or sting, so you can pick them off with your bare hands. But if that grosses you out, then wear gloves. You should also pick off any eggs or cocoons that you find while you’re hunting for the caterpillars.

To kill cabbage worms, simply drop them into a bucket of soapy water. They can’t swim, and will eventually drown in the water. But the soap will kill them much faster. Of course you can always just smush them rather than bothering with soapy water, if you aren’t too squeamish.

Dead cabbage worms after hand picking

Spray Neem Oil To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms

Neem oil is a naturally occurring pesticide that kills caterpillars when they feed on the leaves, and it’s safe to use on vegetables. It has a residual effect too, which means you don’t have to spray your plants every day.

It doesn’t kill cabbage worms instantly, it takes a while for neem oil to get into their systems and kill them. Adding a mild liquid soap to the mix will help kill them faster.

Try Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) To Treat Caterpillars

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacterium commonly used as a biological insecticide. BT works great for getting rid of cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, and any other caterpillars that feed on plants.

Simply spray it on the leaves of infested plants. When the caterpillars eat it, they’ll stop feeding right away. Though it can take a few days for them to die.

Use Insecticidal Soap Spray To Kill Cabbage Worms

Insecticidal soap will kill caterpillars on contact. So this is a good alternative if you’re too squimish to hand pick them. It only works when you spray it directly on the cabbage worms, and has no residual effect.

You can either buy a pre-made organic insecticidal soap, or make your own. I make my own by mixing 1 tsp mild liquid soap with 1 liter of water.

Spray the leaves as soon as you start seeing damage, the soap will destroy both the eggs and the tiny caterpillars. Be sure to spray under the leaves too, since this is usually where they’re hiding.

How To Prevent Cabbage Worms

One of the most effective ways to get rid of cabbage worms on your plants is to prevent them in the first place. So this section is for you if you want to learn how to keep worms off cabbage plants…

Use Row Covers To Prevent Cabbage Worms

Since brassicas don’t need to be pollinated by bees, floating row covers are an excellent way to prevent cabbage worm infestations. You can cover the crops right after planting, and leave the covers on all summer long.

Row covers will keep cabbage worm butterflies from laying their eggs in the first place. So be sure to cover your crops as soon as you plant them, before the butterflies can get to them.

But don’t worry if you don’t get the covers installed right away, you can add them at any time. Just keep an eye on the plants after you cover them. Once you get rid of cabbage worms already on the plants, the covers will keep new ones off.

Since they are lightweight, floating row covers allow plenty of sunlight and water through, so the plants will grow just fine. Simply adjust them as necessary to allow plenty of room for your plants as they grow larger.

Using row covers to keep cabbage worms off kale plants

Attract Beneficial Predators To Control Cabbage Worms

Beneficial bugs, like wasps, ladybugs, spiders, ground beetles, and praying mantis are excellent cabbage worm predators. So plant flowers to attract these types of predatory insects to help in your fight.

Birds also love eating caterpillars like cabbage worms, and they can eat a lot of them! So be sure to make your garden bird-friendly too.

Destroy Cabbage Worm Pupae In The Fall

As I mentioned above, cabbage worms overwinter in their pupa stage, and they hibernate in plant debris or the soil. So there are a few things you can do in the fall to help get rid of cabbage worms…

  • Remove all of the dead plant material, especially anything in the cabbage family. Be sure to destroy it, or throw it into the trash, rather than putting it into your compost bin. Otherwise, the pupae can just overwinter in there.
  • After cleaning out your garden in the fall, till or turn the soil. This will help control cabbage worms by destroying the pupae, or expose them so that predators can eat them.

Cabbage Worm Control FAQs

In this section, I will answer the most frequently asked questions about controlling cabbage worms. After reading through the post and FAQs, if you have any other questions, please ask them in the comments below. I will get them answered them as soon as I can.

How do you get rid of worms in cabbage before cooking?

To get rid of cabbage worms before cooking, you can simply soak the leaves or heads in water for 5-10 minutes. The caterpillars will drown, and sink to the bottom.

Be sure to completely submerge everything so the caterpillars can’t crawl on top, or into air pockets and hide. You’ll also probably need to weigh things down, since the leaves and heads will float. I use a heavy plate or bowl to keep everything submerged.

Green cabbage worm on white cauliflower

How do you kill cabbage worms?

If you’re too squeamish to squish them after hand picking, I don’t blame you! So instead, you can kill cabbage worms by dropping them into a bucket of soapy water, or spray them with insecticidal soap.

What eats cabbage worms?

Birds love eating cabbage worms and other caterpillars. Predatory insects like spiders, wasps, ground beetles, and ladybugs will also eat them. Attracting these natural predators can make it much easier to control cabbage worms.

What can I spray on my cabbage plants to keep bugs off?

Insecticidal soap, neem oil, and BT are the best organic sprays to use on cabbage plants. See the “Methods For Controlling Cabbage Worms Organically” section above for details.

Does baking soda and/or flour work to kill cabbage worms?

That’s debatable. I have heard people share that they use a 50/50 mix of four and baking soda to get rid of cabbage worms. The caterpillars are supposed to eat it, and then die few days later.

I have never tried it myself, so I can’t speak from experience. But there’s not much info out there about this method, so I’m leary of it. It would be an inexpensive experiment if you want to give it a try though.

Are cabbage worms poisonous?

No. As disgusting as it would be to know that you accidentally ate a cabbage worm, they are not poisonous or harmful if eaten. Think of it as added protein.

Getting rid of cabbage worms in your garden can be very frustrating. It may take a little bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for controlling cabbage worms. But if you are diligent with your treatments, your problem will go away pretty quickly.

Recommended Cabbage Worm Control Products

More Garden Pest Control Posts

  • How To Control Flea Beetles In The Organic Garden
  • How To Control Japanese Beetles Organically
  • How To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs Naturally
  • How To Get Rid Of Squash Vine Borers Organically
  • How To Get Rid Of Slugs In The Garden Naturally

Share your tips and methods for getting rid of cabbage worms in the comments section below.

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