Broccoli Worms - Knowledgebase Question

Downingtown, PA
Question by CPennypack
December 26, 1997
My question is abouth those little green worms on broccoli that are a real pain to clean off prior to eating. My wife loves broccoli, but won't eat fresh garden broccoli because of those green worms. How can I control them, or what non-toxic pesticide can I use?


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Answer from NGA
December 26, 1997

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These worms are most likely cabbage worms and I am with your wife...yeccchh!! They can be controlled in a number of ways, I'll stick to organic. There is a biological control called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt for short) that is very effective in controlling this pest. It is sold under the brand names "Dipel" and "Thuricide" and is pretty readily available at most garden centers. It is basically a disease you are giving the pests, it doesn't harm people, pets, or beneficial insects. You could also try "Neem-Away" spray. It suppresses an insect's desire to feed, and halts larval development so insects die before they molt. It too is not harmful to pets, people, or beneficial insects. You can obtain it from Gardens Alive! at (812) 537-8650 or write to them at 5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025. (By the way, I always soak my broccoli in a big bowl of salted water, keeping the head submergedwith a heavy plate. The cabbage worms will let go and float. If I've been negligent in my controls, and I find a few, I try to remember that at least I know my garden hasn't been sprayed with anything toxic to control them!)

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