Cabbage Loopers – Winter Garden Pest Management
by Troy Smothermon on October 29, 2014 in Gardening Tips, Pest Control
Cabbage Loopers: Organic Pest Control
It’s October and it’s time to plant your winter vegetable garden.
I wanted to share a few tips for managing one of the toughest
pests in your garden this season.
Cabbage Loopers (or Cabbage Worm) can cause significant
damage to your crops and you might never see them coming.
They are not something to fear, but knowing how to identify
them and how to prevent or manage them can make the
difference between a total crop loss and a great winter harvest.
What’s Eating My Kale!? Pest Identification and Control of
the Cabbage Looper
Step 1: Identify the Looper
The Cabbage Looper starts off as a small yellow larva about the
size of a grain of sand. It is left behind on the back sides of
your Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, and of course Cabbage leaves
by a small white fluttering butterfly (moth). The moth usually lays
eggs during the warmer days with less wind.
The egg develops into a very small caterpillar (less than 1 cm).
Over the next few weeks the caterpillar eats holes in maturing
leaves until it is fully grown (a little over 1 inch – like the ones
shown in my hand in the first picture above). The holes are an
easy way to identify if you have Loopers or not.
Step 2: Pest Management
There’s 3 good ways to stop the Loopers from eating your
1. Pick them off! Just go Looper hunting 2 times per week for a
few minutes. The Loopers like to hide in the middle of your
plants (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale and Cabbage) in the young
leaves among the new growth. They can be tough to spot at
first but get in close and you’ll find them. If you have chickens..
feed them the Loopers
2. Cover your crops. If you have a simple row cover that
prevents the moth from laying eggs you can stop Loopers
before they start. Be sure to cover with something breathable
that also lets the sunshine through.
3. Bacillus Thuringiensis. BT for short. This naturally occurring
bacteria kills Loopers and is organically approved. I would use
this insecticide as a last resort only if you are growing fields of
the same crop and you have no other alternative.
Step 3: Enjoy your Looper-free veggies.
Hope this helps. Watch the video for more on the top of the
page for more visuals