Pest control for cabbage plants

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I got a call a few years ago from a reader who also happens to be a parent. After the call, I went to her house and checked the problem. From what I could see, much of his cabbage and cabbage crops had small holes.

She called in the culprit who did the damage. What I saw was a 1-2 inch long green caterpillar that looked like a member of the butterfly family. The reason I think the insect was a butterfly is that it developed a little chrysalis; first, because they wanted to eat the sprouts, they wanted to control the insect organically.

As I watched the bugs, they were pulling these picnic plates off their cabbage leaves, which was their main approach to controlling the little guys. From what I could see, they were white cabbages or Pieris rapae.

Integrated pest management is an effective and environmentally friendly approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common sense practices. Integrated pest management practices take into account the life cycle of insects and the way they interact in their environment. If you haven’t thought about sticky yellow scout traps and garden logs, you need to do so in order to approach a biological pest solution.

ARMY WORM MANAGEMENT:A walk in the garden: biological methods of managing legionaries

A four-step approach to controlling insects

IPM is not a one-size-fits-all solution to pest control, but rather a four-step approach to pest control.

  1. First, set an action threshold where the insect damage to your crop has reached a critical level.
  2. Second, you should monitor the number of pests you see in your crop.
  3. Prevent pest damage to your crop as much as possible.
  4. Use as many organic solutions as possible and minimize the chemicals used in your garden.

These ideas will be discussed in the next columns.

Cabbage plant

That year it had been very difficult to keep a garden with insect attacks, drought and flooding. Over the years, I have done a number of things to control bugs. I used Sevin, which I try to minimize the use of, looked intently through the plants to pull them out and kill them – and something else to sort of confuse them.

What I did was maybe 10-15 pieces of wormwood or mugwort or dusty sucker in an old blender with a few cups of water. Garlic oil can also be sprayed on plants to confuse insects. I mixed maybe a tablespoon of Joy dish soap in the water and gently stirred the concoction.

Butterflies for me, I guess, thought cabbages were wormwood plants. The big trial was to spray under the leaves where the bugs really liked to feed, which is one of the tips to solve the problem. These insects tend to follow the veins of the plant but eat through the center of a cabbage head.

TENT TRACKS:A walk in the garden: The heavy infestation of tent caterpillars revisited

My problem is you have to be very thorough when you spray because the bugs can survive the spray very well if you don’t get the plant fully. Growing aromatic plants among cabbage-type plants – like hyssop, thyme, wormwood, celery, dill, sage, and onions – will help confuse these insects.

A dusty sucker water solution may help control some garden insects.
Growing aromatic plants like sage with cabbage type plants can help control insects.

BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) or Dipel, if you spray weekly, can also control these insects. Pulverized eggs are the easiest to control with BT; Dipel makes the blood milky. I came across this solution several years ago, but it fixes the problem a bit easier. This insect is a nocturnal insect.

If you were to lay a cloth blanket over the cabbages in the evening, you might also find that you have controlled the insect. The blanket prevents them from laying eggs on the plants and makes them go to another place. Old nylon stockings on the plant can also control insects, again because they cannot reach the plant.

More natural solutions to fight insects

There is a small wasp called Apantales glomeratus that lays its eggs in the caterpillar. These tiny wasps grow indoors by devouring the caterpillar. Another biological control is a virus which attacks the caterpillar, turns it gray and kills it.

One of the other natural solutions to controlling these insects over time is to provide a natural habitat for birds that would feed on these insects. You will need nesting trees, alternative food sources, a water source, and trees for cover near the garden. This will control the bugs over time. If you attract Northern Mockingbird, Red-shouldered Blackbird, American Robin, or Red Cardinal, they will help you care for these butterflies.

A final idea for confusing these tiny monsters is to crack eggshells which can also mislead the insect into believing that other parents have landed on their target and shouldn’t bother laying their eggs on them. your plants.

Hope you have a nice walk in your garden this week. If you are having trouble in your garden please email me at [email protected] I will be starting my blog soon and you can see the post on ohiohealthyfoodcooperative.org. Thank you for your questions and for allowing me to help you.

Eric Larson of Jeromesville is a seasoned landscaper and gardener and founding member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. He encourages your gardening questions by emailing [email protected]


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