Cabbage Loopers - Winter Garden Pest Management

October 29, 2014

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