You’ve probably seen the signs of attack already… lots of holes in the leaves of your cabbages and broccoli, maybe a little frass (caterpillar poo) and some webbing. And those little white butterflies fluttering about, they call them ‘Cabbage White Butterflies’ and yes, they are the adults laying eggs on the leaves.
Caterpillars in large numbers will destroy cabbage crops and they’re a big problem this time of year. Thankfully they are easy to control organically, but you need to get onto it!
You can pick them off by hand, but you need to be diligent and follow up daily. Be sure to check under the leaves where they often hide.
A commercial product ‘Dipel’ works well and it’s safe to use. Dipel is a bacteria that affects caterpillars only, so it’s safe for birds, pets and you. It comes in a powdered form that you mix in water and spray onto the leaves. Make sure you spray the under surface as well.
Something else a lot of organic gardeners find effective is molasses. Just mix up a tablespoon in a litre of warm water, add a teaspoon of dish washing liquid and spray it liberally on both sides of the leaves. It’s a great little home remedy.
First published: April 2010