Ask a Question forum: Cabbage worms. :(

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Name: Sheri Boyd
Albany Ga (Zone 8b)
learning all I can of Daylilies and
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Sherib381
Jun 5, 2016 7:23 PM CST
Frustrated to my wits end!! This is my first year going all out and planting a vegetable garden with a variety of vegetables. Last week I found these tiny green worms sucking the leaves of my plants, cucumbers to be exact. I used the method of picking them off and to be on the safe side I sprayed my plants with soap oil and baking soda. As days went by the worms stated to appear on my beans, I picked them off and again sprayed with the at home mixture. The next morning I got off work went straight out to my garden and no worms on my beans. Nope they were on my tomatoes, by this time I am considering a seven dust, so again I picked and sprayed as I was leaving my garden I noticed that my zinnias I planted as companion plants were infested, I pulled up my zinnias and threw my hands in the air, Went tonal owes and bought organic insecticidal soap. Sprayed my entire day garden. Tow days or so went by and I assumed I had found the miracle in a bottle. Until today the worms are now huge and I'm ready to pull everything up and give up gardening. My question is... What is the best thing to use? I am really tired of squishing worms. Does flour and baking soda really work? Can you help me please?
I was just sitting here enjoying the company, plants have a lot to say if you just take the time to listen.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 5, 2016 7:29 PM CST
You might try neem oil. Make sure it is 100% neem and use it after the sun sets to make sure your plants don't burn. It is a systemic so may take a couple days to work. But is safe for everything except sucking insects. Its a food additive for people.
Name: Sheri Boyd
Albany Ga (Zone 8b)
learning all I can of Daylilies and
Daylilies
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Sherib381
Jun 5, 2016 7:51 PM CST
I've heard of need oil.i guess I should try it. I cannot believe how big the worms were,🐛 I was literally in tears this afternoon. 😭Thanks Daisy🌸
I was just sitting here enjoying the company, plants have a lot to say if you just take the time to listen.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 5, 2016 7:59 PM CST
Sheri, you could try Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) for the "worms." I'm not sure those are actually "cabbage worms," since they seem to be on all kinds of non-cabbage plants, but at any rate the Bt should take care of any sort of caterpillar. (You should be able to buy it at pretty much any garden center type of place.)
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 5, 2016 8:26 PM CST
Sheri, it's possible you had different types of worms on the various plants, too. The really huge ones that you found on your tomato plants are probably tomato hornworms or their close relative tobacco hornworms. They can exfoliate a tomato plant in just a few days, and yes, they get as big as your finger.

Gardening is a long, steep learning curve. Don't give up, come and ask us for advice sooner! I'm with Sandy on the Bt being the "magic bullet" here. You don't want to just go trying stuff until you've killed them all off - some of that stuff like Sevin is not rated for use on edibles if you're trying to stay organic. Baking soda is good for fungus prevention, and soap should be used by itself, not with oil. Oil is good for smothering insects like scales. Soap kills on contact most sucking insects like aphids and whiteflies. Both of those can make the sun burn your plants so rinsing them off again in the morning is a good idea.

But with the hornworms, just get out there and pick them off by hand as you have been. They're so big, it's easy.

Btw, birds love to eat caterpillars - since I put out a birdfeeder near my veggie area, I've hardly had any problems like this at all.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 5, 2016 8:35 PM CST
And then there's the issue of "what will those worms turn into" ? (for me, at least)

One year I had a horrible infestation of some really ugly caterpillars, eating petunia plants, totally devouring a couple of borage plants, and moving on to anything and everything else... only after I sprayed them all with Bt did I learn they were Painted Lady butterfly cats Blinking . Actually, they were doing so much damage I'm not sure I would have done anything differently -- but at least I would have been making an informed decision about killing them.

The tomato hornworms turn into sphinx moths, aka hummingbird moths... which I love seeing visit my flower boxes on the deck. Ahhh -- everything is such a trade-off! Smiling
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 5, 2016 9:07 PM CST
Been there, done that too Sandy. I planted a big pot of parsley on my patio the first year we lived here in FL. Came out one day to find only the stems left, and about 10 fat, striped caterpillars hanging on those stems, still eating! Squished them all, then found out they were black swallowtail cats. Argghh! After that I just planted a whole bunch more parsley so there was enough for me AND the butterflies.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jun 5, 2016 9:13 PM CST
I do that with dill, Elaine... which is easy enough, since if you let the seeds ripen it sprouts up everywhere. But unfortunately our b'fly population overall is WAY down for the past few years (ever since the horrible winter of 2013/2014) and I haven't seen a swallowtail since then. I'm ready with the dill if they come back, though!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 6, 2016 4:27 AM CST
DaisyI said:You might try neem oil. Make sure it is 100% neem and use it after the sun sets to make sure your plants don't burn. It is a systemic so may take a couple days to work. But is safe for everything except sucking insects. Its a food additive for people.


My understanding is that neem oil doesn't affect only sucking insects. If it did it wouldn't be effective for cabbageworms and other caterpillars ("worms") that chew rather than suck. It does primarily target pests that feed on the plant rather than beneficials though.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Jun 6, 2016 6:36 AM CST
Download the PDF users manual for Azamax. My favorite spray. Gene
Name: Sheri Boyd
Albany Ga (Zone 8b)
learning all I can of Daylilies and
Daylilies
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Sherib381
Jun 7, 2016 4:37 AM CST
Oh my ! Thank you guys for all the info and support. I did go to the garden center and bough the BT. However it poured down here yesterday, and, me with my ocd about the worms. I took my umbrella out to my garden thinking that the rain was so hard it would knock the culprits off. I didn't want to spray anything since it was raining, and to my dismay they were going strong..eating everything in their path. Yes there are more than one kind, a black striped one , an juicy green one and yes the dredged hornworm. I just put my umbrella down put on a pair of rubber cloves, and went on the hunt. While I was looking thru my garden Lo and behold there it sat looking at me, a huge moth. I was beginning to think it was there to spook me I found it to be the Sphimx .
I did see the birds walndering in and out , I assumed they were there to eat.
Later today after the clear skies appear I'm gonna spray. I'll keep y'all updated.
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I was just sitting here enjoying the company, plants have a lot to say if you just take the time to listen.
[Last edited by Sherib381 - Jun 7, 2016 4:49 AM (+)]
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