Controlling Cabbage Loopers Organically
Cabbage loopers are pale green worms (light stripes down the back)
reaching one and a half inches long that devour the leaves of cole
crops (cole crops are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc).
They can quickly skeletonize a plant leaving only the outlines of
leaves if uncontrolled. And these are the “surprises” that inhabit the
You'll quickly figure out the “looper” part of the name because as it
moves along the leaf, it doubles up in “loops” as it moves.
Cabbage Looper Eggs
Cabbage loopers lay eggs that are greenish-white and are laid in single
eggs on the upper surface of leaves. They overwinter as green or brown
pupa attached to one side of a leaf (an excellent reason to clean up
the garden in the fall) and hatch out in the spring.
Control is fairly straightforward.
The first is garden sanitation. By eliminating the overwintering pupa,
you'll reduce next year's hatch. So clean up the garden in the fall.
Bt (bacillus thuringiensis)
is a bacteria that parasitizes the gut of
caterpillars. It doesn't kill them outright but does stop them from
eating. Infected garden pests quietly go somewhere else and die. Bt is
not harmful to other non-target pests, pets or humans.
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as a contact dust kills them instantly. Follow the directions
on the label and do not breathe rotenone. Rotenone is not a good thing
for humans even though it is organic and only is effective for 24 hours
(sunlight deactivates it).
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works on cabbage loopers as well as most other pests.
You'll have to thoroughly wet the leaves and flowering parts of the
plant. Soap has no residual action and you have to hit them to kill
them. Follow the label directions for repeat spraying (one spray will
not get all these pests).
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You can also easily hand pick them if you're not squeamish.
They are dislodged by a strong jet of water as well but not killed and they will climb back up onto the plant.
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