Cabbage Pests

By National Gardening Association Editors

Mustard, collards and kale are closely related to cabbage, and they suffer from similar pests and diseases.

Early Season Pests

If you plant any of these greens you'll have to watch for early-season flea beetles, aphids and other insects. Spraying insecticidal soap will control these pests. Be sure to read all directions very carefully before you spray.


The best-known cabbage family pest is probably the imported cabbageworm, offspring of the white cabbage butterfly. As soon as you see the butterflies making the rounds of your garden, spray every seven to 10 days with the biological control Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, available in garden centers as Dipel or Thuricide. It's a bacterium that causes the worms to get sick and die after they ingest it. It does not affect the crop or people who eat the crop, only caterpillars. Be especially diligent about controlling cabbageworms on fall crops, since young seedlings can be easily killed by this voracious pest.

To guard against diseases that plague the cabbage family of vegetables, be sure to rotate these crops each year. Do not plant them where any other member of the cabbage family, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, grew the previous year.

Other articles in this series:
1. Cultivating Greens
2. Fertilizing Greens
3. Watering Greens Crops
4. Solving Lettuce Problems
5. Greens' Diseases & Insects
6. Cabbage Pests ← you're on this article right now

This article is a part of our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Lettuce and Greens / Care.

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