Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I proudly showed my grandma a wee sweet caterpillar. Instead of oohing and aahing over my find, Grandma snatched the wooly thing out of my hand and smashed it under foot. To her, it was simply a garden pest, but I was crushed. I like to think that I’d never do such a thing in front of a child, but I can and do handpick pests in the privacy of my own garden. Cabbage whites – more specifically, their caterpillars – are wreaking havoc on my kale and Brussels sprouts. The other day when a moth flew by, I did the logical thing and snatched it out of the air. There were no witnesses to my cruelty or to the fact that I’d snatched a moth right out of the air. I have turned into my Grandma, albeit a ninja version of my grandma.
Cabbage whites are drawn to brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, kale…). Getting these plants established in a garden can be difficult when a single caterpillar can decimate a young plant. While they’re small, consider covering the plants with some sort of mesh to keep the moths off the leaves. I’m keeping my eyes open for wire mesh trash cans at the local thrift shops for just this use.
Now that my plants are bigger, I seem to be getting a handle on the pests by checking my plants every few days for eggs and caterpillars.
- Look on the under side of the leaf for tiny (TINY) yellow dots. These are eggs. Wipe them off.
- Also look on the under side of the leaves for tiny (TINY) green caterpillars. Wipe them off.
- Instead of removing the chewed, ugly old leaves from the plants, I’m leaving them intact as bait for the moths. I’d rather have the caterpillars chewing on those than the young leaves.
Photo by Flickr user jjjj56cp