Cabbage Worms

small cabbage white butterfly
cabbage worm
Cabbage worm eggs
cabbage worm

Cabbageworms, also known as imported cabbageworms, are the caterpillar form of a very common, small, white butterfly seen in gardens throughout the United States. Known as the cabbage white or the imported cabbageworm butterfly, this non-native insect feeds on nectar from various flowering plants, but it lays its eggs on vegetables in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Once eggs hatch, cabbageworm damage can be swift and extensive.

Cabbageworm Identification

Small white butterflies with black wing spots in your garden are sure signs that cabbageworms will follow soon. Look on the undersides of leaves for eggs that resemble tiny golden footballs attached by their tips. The green, wormlike, 1-inch-long caterpillars are covered in fine hairs that give them a velvety appearance. Pale yellow lines run lengthwise down their bodies.

Signs or Damage of Cabbageworms

Cabbageworms feed on plants in the cabbage family, creating very large, irregular holes and boring down into vegetable heads. Because of their green coloring, cabbageworms blend into plants and are often hard to find at first. However, they leave large amounts of dark green excrement pellets that are very easy to spot. Find those, and you know the pest is nearby.

How to Control Cabbageworms

Protecting against cabbageworm damage starts as soon as the butterflies arrive. Inspect cabbages and related plants closely, remove and destroy eggs, and treat plants for cabbageworms right away. GardenTech brand offers several highly effective controls that kill cabbageworms and protect your harvest:

  • Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use2 is ideal for targeted spot treatments to kill cabbageworms on contact. Adjust the nozzle wide or narrow, and spray both upper and lower plant surfaces thoroughly. Allow at least one day between application and edible harvests.
  • Sevin Insect Killer Concentrate and Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Spray provide easy and economical ways to treat larger areas of your garden efficiently. These products kill cabbage worms by contact and keep protecting for up to three months.+ Allow at least one day between treating and harvesting edible crops.
  • Sevin Insect Killer Dust Ready to Use starts killing cabbageworms immediately upon contact. Just sprinkle a thin, uniform layer on upper and lower sides of plant leaves. Allow at least seven days between treatment and harvest of your cabbage patch.

Cabbageworm Control Tip: At season's end, remaining cabbageworms enter a pupal stage. Adults then emerge in spring. After harvest, remove and destroy all leftover plant debris to prevent the pupal pests from overwintering.

+Except fire ants and ticks

Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for listed plants and pests, application frequencies and pre-harvest intervals (PHI) for edible crops.

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