Cabbage worms - now that's just disgusting!

PurplethumbedLes(8)September 12, 2011

I've been finding cabbage worms on the brussels sprouts and cabbages for about a week now. I blast the larvae (and tiny black pellets that I think are eggs) off the plants with the hose, but notice that activity seems to be escalating.

My questions are: 1) When will the cabbage butterflies die off/stop laying their eggs? 2) Is hosing (and squishing the larvae) going to be enough to save the crop; 3) Should I try covering the plants with row cover fabric, or would it just be a wasted effort for this season?

Thanks!

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Those "tiny black pellets " are -- umm -- caterpillar poop.

The eggs are small, slightly elongated, off-white and sit on end. Look for them on the backs of the leaves. Squish when found.

And yes, remove the cats you see, then repeat.

And put row cover over the plants but be certain to check now & then for at least the first week because you will have missed some of the eggs & the very young cats.

Then resolve that next year you'll add the row cover when you plant, securing all edges.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 7:09PM
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larry_gene

The cabbage white butterfly population has 3 or even 4 broods each year. The current brood of egg-layers will be dead in a few weeks; they require about 60 degrees or warmer to fly, so cooler autumn weather will stop them also.

And they will start all over again in early April, but later in zone 4.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:06PM
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PurplethumbedLes(8)

Caterpillar poop? I'll be on the lookout--it's alot easier to see than the caterpillars. Thanks for the tip!

I MacGyvered a row cover out of repurposed drip irrigation tubing, PVC slip junctions and t-connectors, bridal tulle fabric, and strips of scrap lumber. Too bad I can't post a pic, 'cause I think it's pretty slick (as well as economical). I'm calling it "Death Camp for Caterpillars," and will refine it over the winter so it can go on when I set out the new plants next Spring. Very glad to learn that the butterflies' days are numbered since first frost isn't supposed to arrive here until mid-November.

I am also trying spinosad spray from the nursery on the leaves and hearts of the plants, though I wonder how effective it will be with all of the hosing I'm also doing. And some of the caterpillars either have a disease (they're fatter, whitish, and unmoving), or they're actually something else, like slugs.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 9:02PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Slugs don't have legs.
;-)
Mike

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 2:02PM
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plantknitter(8)

fatter greyish things may also be crane fly larva, but they would be on/in the ground not up on the plants.
Caterpillars don't leave shiny slime.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:08PM
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larry_gene

...sometimes caterpillars get lethargic just before they pupate, and they would be at their fattest at this time.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 11:30PM
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