Sunday, November 9, 2008





Now that the sowbugs are under control (thanks wholly to Diatomaceous Earth, which works GREAT!), our latest moocher is the cabbage worm...
I pick them off of our cabbages, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, brussels sprouts, and collard greens every day and they're just voracious, leaving holes and poor, exhausted plants.

It's war now, and hand picking just isn't cutting it. Here's what I have learned:

Bacillus Thuringiensis

The great thing about Bt is that it only affects insects that are in the caterpillar stage. It consists of a naturally occurring bacteria that is deadly to cabbage worms. Once they consume a part of a plant treated with Bt, the worm will stop feeding and shortly thereafter it will die.
Bt is usually sold in a liquid form which is mixed with water and sprayed onto the foliage of the plants that are under attack. This organic product is safe and can be applied right up until the time of harvest. Bt works and offers complete control over many types of caterpillars.

I also read the following, which, once the worms are under control from the Bt application, I will try:

A really good natural repellent is hot pepper spray. You can make the spray by chopping or grinding hot peppers into fine particles. You then mix 1/2 cup of the grounded peppers with 1 pint of water and then strain out the particles to form a clear solution. You should spray the plants twice, 2 or 3 days apart. Just make sure the spray makes contact with the cabbageworm.

Another good natural method for controlling all sorts of pests, including the cabbage worm, is insecticidal soap. The soap is a mixture of salts and fatty acids derived from plants. It is harmless to plants and works by drying up the pest causing it to die. You can apply the spray in the early morning or late afternoon, or on a cloudy day, while it's still cool, to reduce the risk of any possible damage to the plants and to minimize evaporation.


To prevent infestation in the first place, protect your plants with floating row covers, especially in spring and early summer, when egg-laying activity is at its highest.

To prevent the worms from burrowing into cabbage heads, insert each head into a nylon stocking, and leave it on until you harvest the head.

Oh boy.



Weeping Sore said...

I fear I'll never be a real gardener because my reaction to yucky bugs is not to try to understand them, or even control them. Instead, I simply get "grossed out" like a girl.
Right now, I'm fighting squirrels. No fence known to man can stop them (unlike the dumb bunnies). They seem to enjoy digging up whatever they don't eat, the bastards.

Adriana said...

I struggled with the cabbage worm also. I knew I should have used floating row covers but alas didn’t. I’ve learned my lesson and will use them in the future.

The nylon stocking tip is genius!