QUESTION: What is eating my cabbage plants? What are the signs of damage that I should look for to identify common cabbage pests and how do I treat them? -Lori T
ANSWER: The most common cabbage pests are aphids, worms, moths, and slugs. Aphids and other mites drain the essential sap from cabbage leaves, leaving the plant weak and damaged, as well as more susceptible to other pest infestations and diseases. To kill these tiny bugs, make a homemade spray by mixing 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 2 teaspoons of dish soap. Spray on the cabbage plant. Alternatively, you can knock them off of your plants with a strong burst of water from the garden hose if the infestation is small.
Also, army worms and cutworms are popular cabbage pests. If there are just a few worms on your cabbage plants, you should be okay just picking them off by hand and crushing them. For a more serious infestation, make a spray to repel them by mixing one tablespoon of dish soap with one cup of vegetable oil and one cup of water and spray down the entire plant, especially the underside of the leaves, where worms often hide. Another way to handle worm problems with your cabbage plants is to dust the plant with flour. The worms eat the flour and it expands in their stomachs and kills them.
Worms actually come from moths, who like to lay their larvae on cabbage plants. To prevent the occurrence of worm infestations, just repel the moths and you won’t have to deal with worms as a result. Try these methods to repel moths: grow garlic as a companion plant to cabbage, spread crushed white eggshells around the base of your plants, or cover your cabbage plants with garden sun cloth as a barrier so the moths can’t get to them.
Slugs and snails can create a lot of damage to cabbage plants. These two pests often go unnoticed because they like to feed late at night and early in the morning, exactly when you are not in the garden. It’s extra important to catch slugs and snails in the act early. They are known to eat large portions of cabbage plants in short periods. Try preventing slugs and snails with traps. Pour beer into several shallow saucers or bowls and place them around your cabbage plants to lure the pests in to drown, or surround your plants with a circle of salt, to dissolve the slugs on contact when they attempt to crawl over it to get to your plants.