You’ll find that part of the journey in gardening is just managing the pests that could easily come in, take over, and eat all of your crops. Once you start gardening, you really start to appreciate the work that goes into growing food like farmers do. There’s so much patience, timing is important, awareness of fluctuations in weather and temperature, soil conditions to know about, and the different kinds of pests to each plant you need to know about. There are so many things to be aware of that can honestly be overwhelming. And when you think you’ve gotten the hang of it, something else comes along and you learn something new.
That’s the beauty of growing your own food – you’re always learning something new and there’s always a challenge, believe it or not.
That’s why I love to share about all the gardening blunders, tips, and so much more in these blog posts! Now enter the cabbage moth. They’re one of the pests I didn’t know a lot about, but I can definitely tell you they’ve attacked my cabbages and brussel sprouts whenever I’ve grown them. We’re talking full infestations which is SO disheartening. Prevention is ALWAYS the best option before you have to actually deal with any kind of pests.
So what are steps that can be implemented in the garden to keep cabbage moth at bay?
This post is all about the white cabbage moth.
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Garden Moths: What is a White Cabbage Moth and How to Identify It
There are a few ways to identify the white cabbage moth: identifying them as adults or as caterpillars, knowing which season they are out and about, and what their favorite crops are. Let’s take a look at what each way looks like.
What is a Cabbage Moth, Cabbage Moth Caterpillar, and What They Look Like
A cabbage moth is commonly called cabbage whites or small whites as adults. They are a white butterfly with black markings. The cabbage worm looks completely different from the adult. It has a velvety green color with yellow stripes. Although they’re small, they can cause severe damage to crops.
A helpful way to further identify them is to observe what plants they are on. Their favorite meals are plants from the cabbage family which include cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, bok choy, and other vegetables.
Cabbage Moth Season
Understanding when cabbage moth season is crucial to know when exactly to look for them, when they’ll be laying their eggs, and when they can potentially cause damage to crops. White cabbage moths and cabbage moth caterpillars are present in the garden from early spring to late fall. There can be several generations within that time frame, which explains just how they can really cause an infestation.
Cabbage Moth Life Cycle
Before the cabbage moth can even be seen, it overwinters on its favorite plants in the pupal stage. In the spring, the adults come out and start laying their eggs underneath the leaves. This is why it’s always important when checking your plants to look under the leaves. There are so many pests that hide their eggs under the leaves.
Once the eggs have been laid, they begin hatching between 4 to 8 days. The larvae take 2 weeks to mature and then pupate. Once the adult emerges (1 to 2 weeks), they begin mating and laying eggs.
Overall, from egg to adult it takes 3 to 6 weeks.
How to Get Rid of Cabbage Moths Naturally
There are several natural and effective methods to combat these pests without having to use pesticides. The following are viable options to choose from, or you can even implement more than one:
- Use row covers
Row covers are a light-weight, breathable gauze-like material that are made from synthetic materials like polyester or polypropylene. These covers are placed over crops and held up with garden hoops, and are designed to keep bugs off the plants. This includes keeping away beneficial insects.
To keep the moths and cabbage worms away from cabbages handpicking, or manually removal is another option.
- Beneficial Insects
Beneficial insects in the garden, like ladybugs and parasitic wasps, become our allies in this battle.
- Companion planting
Companion planting with herbs such as mint, rosemary, and thyme acted as a deterrent. Interplanting with herbs is such a great way to prevent insects at bay.
- Trap crops
Trap crops, such as mustard, are another great option. The cabbage moths are attracted to the mustard, leaving your prized plants alone.
- Homemade Remedies
Homemade remedies, such as sprays with neem oil, is a good alternative to use. You can also make the below homemade cabbage moth spray. Check out the recipe! Or you can use diatomaceous earth.
[RELATED POST: Is Neem Oil Safe for Vegetables?]
Homemade Cabbage Moth Spray: Garlic Oil Spray
A homemade cabbage moth spray may be up your alley as something else to try. Garlic oil spray is so easy to whip up. Here’s what you need:
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of liquid soap
- 1 medium sized pot
- Spray bottle
- Measuring cup
- Small bowl
This is a 2-step process. A garlic oil concentrate is made first, which will be needed for the second step. The second step is to make the garlic oil spray.
First start by peeling and smashing the head of garlic. Next, in a medium sized pot, pour in 1 cup of olive oil and add in the smashed and peeled head of garlic. Turn the stove onto a medium heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Bubbles should start to form around the pieces of garlic. Once this begins to happen, cook for another 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the mixture from the pot and pour it into a mason jar.
This is the garlic concentrate that you’ll need for the next process.
To make the garlic oil spray, take a small bowl and mix 4 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of liquid soap, and 3 tablespoons of the garlic oil concentrate. The liquid soap pulls everything together since without it, the water and oil won’t mix.
Once it has been mixed together, pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
To apply your new homemade cabbage moth spray, spray both the top and underside of the leaves on your plants.
Preventative Measures – Shielding Cabbage from the White Cabbage Moth
To further fortify defenses, there are some preventative measures that can be implemented.
Crop rotation is a clever way to confuse cabbage moths and make it harder for them to find the cabbage patch. Start planting early to outpace the peak of cabbage moth activity.
Be sure to maintain nutrient-rich soil. This ensures that the cabbage plants are strong and better equipped to withstand some pest damage.
Regular inspections should be a part of your gardening routine. By routinely checking plants, it allows issues to be promptly addressed to stay one step ahead of the cabbage moths.
There are plenty of ways to protect your precious plants from the cabbage moth. Cabbage moths can be quite the challenge to maintain but there are lots of solutions to choose from that work best for you, like row covers and homemade cabbage moth sprays. Armed with these eco-friendly methods, you’ll be ready to defend your garden with vigor and enjoy the bountiful cabbage harvests.
This post was all about white cabbage moth.