The Q&A Archives: Worms On All My Winter Veggie Leaves

Question: All of my fall/winter veggies are coming up. They are doing well except for all sorts of little 1/8 inch worms that look like little caterpillars. They are eating holes and causing the leaves to shrivel. I have tried hand picking them, but there is just too many. They are destroying my garden-beets, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard and radishes. What do you recommend?

Answer: It's probably a cabbageworm or cabbage looper, small green caterpillars that eat leaves. They make a little arch with their body as they move along. If you catch them early, handpicking them is an easy and effective control. Look under leaves and all around the plant. You can often spot their dark, pellet-shaped droppings which can help you locate them. You can also try a forceful spray of water from the hose to knock them off and then round them up in a batch. If they are out of control, you can use Bacillus thurengiensis or Bt. It is a biological control--a bacteria that kills only caterpillars and is safe to other insects, humans and animals. Note however that it will destroy all caterpillars, including the larvae of butterflies.

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