How Do I Keep Bugs From Eating My Cabbage Plants?

Numerous insects and pests find cabbage plants attractive; if unchecked, these bugs can cause substantial damage to the plant. Moreover, these bugs not only damage the cabbage’s leaves and head but also may make it unfit for human consumption. How then do you prevent malicious insects from destroying your cabbage plants?

To keep bugs from eating your cabbage plants, first identify the culprit. Then treat your cabbage with natural remedies like Bt bacterium, neem oil, and insect traps to prevent preying. Natural bug remedies are more affordable and generally safer than commercial insecticides.

The remaining sections of this article go into great detail about a few topics related to this query. They include how you can tell your cabbage plants suffer bug infestation, what you can do to keep bugs off, what are some natural remedies for cabbage bugs, and whether it is safe to eat cabbage leaves infested by bugs.

Also read: Holes in Cabbage Plant Leaves? [What needs to do]

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Best Methods to Keep Bugs Off Your Cabbage

It would be best to employ the proper techniques to deter garden pests from destroying your plants. You can protect your cabbage harvest by using the following methods.

Spray With Bt

  • Bacillus Thuringiensis, or Bt, is an organic pesticide that kills pest moths and butterfly larvae. It is a microbe found naturally occurring in soil and is frequent in organic farming.
  • The bacteria also kill cutworms and other larvae; hence will exterminate the worms as they attempt to consume your cabbage. I recommend the Bonide Caterpillar and Worm Killer, which is effective but kind to other insects and the environment.
  • To get rid of bugs in your cabbage garden, you can spray Bt after every fortnight. You need not worry about spraying Bt during times of harvest as it is safe for human consumption.

Consider Using Neem Oil To Spritz Plants or Worms

  • Another all-natural choice for eliminating dangerous insects is neem oil. Neem oil effectively kills flea beetles and aphids but doesn’t work on worms.
  • Neem oil is harmless to the environment, does not harm people or other plants, and is a natural oil from a tree. I recommend the Natria Neem Oil Pest Control (available on Amazon), a broad-spectrum insecticide that is kind to nature.
  • You can prevent butterflies and moths from laying their eggs on the plants by sprinkling them with neem oil. However, neem oil is best used with other techniques because it isn’t likely to address your problem when used alone.

Apply Insecticidal Soap

Using insecticidal soap is an effective way of killing Aphids and flea beetles; it, however, does not eradicate worms, slugs, and caterpillars. When using an insecticidal soap, always adhere to the directions on the bottle.

Check: Cabbage Leaves Turning Brown? [Causes & Cares]

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Some Natural Remedies for Cabbage Bugs

People are growing more conscious of the impact of non-organic pesticides, and it is a good idea to explore some more earth-friendly solutions. Here are some organic remedies you might consider for cabbage bugs.

Companion Planting

  • Companion planting is a method of organic and ecological gardening that entails placing numerous mutually beneficial plants together. Planting companion plants with your cabbage is one method of reducing the number of pests in your cabbage garden.
  • Herbs are good companion plants; a wide variety of them like sage, hyssop, thyme, rosemary, and peppermint can grow in most parts of the United States. These herbs ward off the moths and butterflies that lay the larvae that consume cabbage.
  • You can plant one or more of these companion plants around or in between rows in your garden to create a barrier between pests and cabbage plants.

Source Beneficial Insects To Destroy Cabbage Pests

  • Beneficial insects prey on and consume the pests in your cabbage. Such insects include parasitic wasps, which often parasitize other arthropods, such as caterpillars and their pupae, lay their eggs inside or on top of them, and eventually kill them.
  • Thus, these helpful insects can be a powerful tool against pest caterpillars like cabbage worms.

Remove the Pests Manually

  • Sometimes the most efficient way to stop pests in their tracks is to manually remove them as soon as you see them, particularly if you are trying to take care of a few plants.
  • The method entails manually selecting caterpillars and cabbage worms from cabbage leaves and squashing aphid colonies. Using tennis rackets and butterfly nets will also catch cabbage moths.

Place Beer Traps

  • Use beer to get rid of any slugs and snails that are infesting your cabbage garden.
  • Beer is a safer alternative to salt rings for controlling snails and slugs since salt can raise the soil’s salinity, killing your plants.
  • Place shallow bowls or containers filled with beer close to your cabbage plants. The beer will attract snails and slugs, keeping them away from the plants. They will drown once they get into the dish.

Plant Purple and Red Cabbage Varieties

  • Red and purple cabbages are less attractive to bugs. These varieties of cabbage are hence less prone to attack by cabbage worms and aphids.
  • One plausible theory is that on brightly colored crops, parasites cannot easily blend in and conceal as they can on green ones; hence predators would find them easily.
  • Additionally, research demonstrates that the anthocyanin found in red and purple cabbages is somewhat poisonous to caterpillars.

Use Garlic Water as a Repellent for Pests

Garlic water is a deterrent to cabbage worms. You can purchase Garlic barriers or make your garlic water for this method by following these steps:

  1. Puree or crush two large bulbs of garlic
  2. Place in a heat-proof bowl and pour over a half cup of boiling water
  3. Cover with wrap, and leave the mixture to intensify overnight
  4. Strain the garlic and pour the garlic water into a spray bottle
  5. Spray your plants liberally with the mixture.

Also, have a look: Should I Cut Off Brown Hydrangea Blooms?

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How Do I Tell if My Cabbage Plant Is Infested By Bugs?

Since bugs are far more challenging to manage in large infestations, controls will always be most successful when targeted early.

You can tell if bugs infest your cabbage plants by checking for early warning signs on the leaves, head, and stem. Such symptoms include yellowing and curling of leaves, leaf discoloration, and holes in the heads. Also, be alert to wilting, chewed holes in leaves, and webbing inside the leaf folds.

Common cabbage pests in the southern and coastal gardens in the United States include:

  1. Cabbage Looper
  2. Beet armyworm
  3. Aphids
  4. Cutworms
  5. Imported cabbageworm
  6. Diamondback moths
  7. Cross-striped cabbageworm.
  • Cabbage loopers are prevalent in most of the USA during the summer but are a common pest in the southernmost states. Some affected states include Florida and British Columbia.
  • These pests can seriously harm both new transplants and mature plants by munching on their leaves, causing damage that may lower marketability or even kill the plants.
  • Different cabbage bugs all leave behind distinctive traces that indicate they have been feeding. The sooner you recognize their warning signs, the sooner you may devise a plan to save your cabbage plants.
  • Some of the common warning signs of bugs infestation in your cabbage garden include:

Yellowing and Curling of Leaves

  • Always pay attention when cabbage leaves start to turn yellow. The plant can indicate a severe disease, dry soil, or a lack of water with this behavior.
  • Diseases like Fusarium soil fungus, which cause cabbage yellowing, are spread by bugs such as leafhoppers. Other bugs that cause the yellowing and curling of cabbage leaves are aphids and stink bugs.

Leaf Discoloration

  • When bugs like cabbage maggots invade your garden, you may also notice yellow, brown, or purple patches on cabbage leaves.
  • Cutworms and cabbage maggots also spread Blackleg, a fungal disease that causes sprouts to become girdled and rotten at the soil level. You will find symptoms of the disease in bluish-black spots on leaves and stems.

Holes on Cabbage Heads and Leaves

  • Your cabbages suffer from a plant parasite if their leaves have holes. Some bugs which often manifest themselves in this manner are Flea beetles. They make tiny holes in the leaves of young transplants and seedlings.
  • Other bugs that leave holes in cabbage leaves are diamondback moths, cabbage worms, pale green caterpillars, and cabbage loopers or armyworms.

Chewed Holes in Leaves and Along the Leaf Margins

  • Although other pests like rodents can cause this kind of damage, chewed holes in cabbage leaves are a significant indicator of worm infestations. They include diamondback caterpillars, imported cabbage worms, and cabbage loopers.
  • Snails and slugs also chew the leaves, leaving them slimed. Ultimately, the cabbage plants weaken and begin to wilt.

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Webbing Inside the Leaf Folds

  • Plants may wilt or start to discolor when arachnids are around. On the surface of leaves, look for black patches, sooty mold, or silvery soft webbing.
  • Unfortunately, bugs such as spider mites are hard to notice; it’s likely that by the time you see their infestation indications, your crops will already be heavily infested.
  • Taking care of your garden entails scouting to ensure that your plants grow healthy. In the case of cabbages, examine your garden weekly and check for any signs of bug infestation.

Check out: Hydrangea Turning Brown? [Reasons & Cares]

Is It Safe To Eat Cabbage Leaves Infested by Bugs?

In most cases, it is safe to eat cabbage leaves infested with bugs. However, this is not always the case, as there are times when the leaves may be contaminated, and consuming them may be detrimental to your health.

  • If you clip away the damaged areas, cabbage leaves that have holes from insects or slugs should be OK to consume.
  • However, there are circumstances where you should stay away from produce infested with bugs, especially rodents.
  • Check the area around your vegetable beds for evidence that a mammal may have been nibbling on the leaves. Do not consume the greens if there are any mounds of deer or rabbit waste around. If you live in the South or Hawaii, thoroughly inspect your lettuce, kale, or spinach for snails or slugs.
  • These pests are capable of dispersing harmful strains of Salmonella and E. coli. Additionally, cat poop might harm your health as it can disseminate the toxoplasmosis-causing parasite.
  • Toxoplasmosis poses significant issues for expectant mothers and also links to mental instability.
  • Thus, if you wash your green vegetables properly and cut out any damaged areas, they should be fine to consume if you are sure that insects or slugs caused the holes in them.
Keep Bugs From Eating My Cabbage Plants
Keep Bugs From Eating My Cabbage Plants

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Preventive actions are always worthwhile, and vigilance is essential. Avoid a lot of headaches later on by preventing those potential infestations. I hope you’re not disheartened and that this article makes you feel more equipped to grow healthy cabbage plants in your garden.