latest brassica pest: cross-striped cabbage worm

Cross striped cabbage wormsSOMEONE’S SUDDENLY EATING HOLES in my Brussels sprouts plants, and it isn’t the usual earlier-in-the-season suspects—those fuzzy green cabbage worms I’ve written about. My new visitors are apparently cross-striped cabbage worms, which can pose a serious problem to home gardeners because they’re prolific egg-layers producing multiple generations a season. Oh, dear.

(They’re also really beautiful, if you look at them up close–but beautiful in the way that Japanese beetles are beautiful, meaning not enough for me to count them as beloved pets and keep them around or anything.) Squish!

The cross-striped cabbage worm larvae are sort of blue-gray, and as their name suggests striped across their bodies. Not so many years back, it was more a pest in Southern farms and gardens, but has gradually made its way to southern New England, at least. I read up on them in various places–U-Mass Amherst; at the University of Georgia, and so on–and what I concluded (as I said): Squish! 

I’ll be vigilant about fall cleanup and follow all the steps I’m already practicing to stay ahead of other cabbage worms, like this. I don’t use pesticides–not even ones rated for organic gardening and specific to caterpillars, such as Bt–and I manage to harvest plenty of food most years, anyhow.

See photos of its other life stages of the cross-striped cabbage worm in the Moth Photographers Group website, or at BugGuide.  Ever seen any in your brassica bed?

  1. JoAnna says:

    This was so helpful. I’ve been familiar with the green kind forever but in the past few years I’ve seen the striped ones. They are harder to pick for some reason. I also refuse to use any sprays. Even those rated for organic gardening. I live on the cape, so these are sadly, dry alive and well in all 3 varieties. I made a « brassica cage » this year specifically to grow cabbages and other brassicas and covered with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. I couldn’t understands how on earth the white butterflies, large or small, could fit. And then I noticed these smaller brown triangular moths in there, apparently able to slide through and yep, that must be what these caterpillars are. I can’t even explain how furious I am after spending the time and money to make that cage!

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