You may have noticed small, green caterpillars on your cabbage plants. These pests are likely cabbage loopers.
Cabbage loopers are a common garden pest that can give your cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables a hard time. If you’re seeing them in your garden, it’s important to take action immediately.
In this article, we’ll discuss some different ways to control them naturally. Let’s get started!
They are yellow-green caterpillars that chew irregular holes in the leaves of certain crops.
These leaf eaters are named for the way they move by arching their backs to form a loop before projecting the rest of the body forward .
How to Get Rid of Cabbage Loopers Naturally
Below, we’ll share several ways to do away with these pesky critters using things you likely have at home and organic products.
1. Scrape Off Eggs
When you see eggs on the plants, especially on the underside of the leaves, it’s time to take action.
They are laid in rows and ridged. Scrape them off and squish them. But be sure to get all of them, as they will hatch into larvae in just a few days.
2. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a natural insecticide that is quite effective against cabbage loopers and other bad garden worms.
Bt is a bacterium that you’ll find naturally in soils. It produces a toxin that will kill the loopers after they ingest it. Bt is one of the best organic methods for dealing with cabbage loopers.
3. Beneficial Insects
Another cabbage looper organic control method is to bring in helpful insects. These little insects will feed on the caterpillars, and before you know it, they’ll be gone.
Some of the best insects for devouring these critters are ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. You can buy them online, or you can simply let nature take its course and attract them to your garden.
Chickens are great around your yard when it’s insect pest season. In fact, they love to eat many of them!
Try getting some chickens, and they’ll take care of the problem for you. Not only do they eat the looper caterpillars, but they also help by scratching the soil and spreading fertilizer.
5. Floating Row Covers
You may have heard of floating row covers before. Basically, these are thin sheets of fabric that you can use to cover your plants.
The fabric acts as a barrier, keeping cabbage looper moths from getting to your plants. And the great thing about them is that they’re reusable—just fold them up and store them in a cool, dry place when you’re not using them.
There are a few different types available, so choose the one that’s best for you.
You also have the option of using spinosad, another substance that is toxic to these cabbage pests.
It’s also effective against gypsy moths, broccoli worms, fall webworms, beet armyworms, and more, which is why it’s so popular for use in organic farming. One downside is that it can be toxic to bees , so you’ll want to avoid using it if you have any beehives on your property.
But if you don’t have any beehives and you’re looking for an organic way to keep away cabbage loopers, spinosad is a great choice.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth just so happens to be a great home remedy for cabbage loopers.
Here’s how it works: The powder is sprinkled on the leaves of the plants, and the pests crawl through it. The sharp edges of the powder cut into their soft bodies, and they dehydrate and die.
8. Control Weeds
Take care of the weed problems to get cabbage loopers out of your garden. Weeds not only compete with your vegetables for food and water, but these pests can overwinter in them.
Cornmeal is another natural remedy that will kill cabbage loopers.
All you need to do is dust it on your plants, and the pests will eat it. They will then swell up and die.
It’s a simple, easy, and affordable solution that works like a charm.
10. Neem Oil
Neem oil works well against cabbage loopers and many other garden pests.
What’s really great about this natural pesticide is that it’s organic and biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about it harming the environment.
So how do you use it? It’s easy—just mix one tablespoon with a gallon of water and a tablespoon of liquid soap and coat your plants.
You can also buy a ready-made mixture online.
Molt-X is made with natural ingredients, including azadirachtin, and it’s effective against many garden pests, including these ones.
Prepare it according to instructions and use it to spray your plants. Molt-X is a good option for getting rid of cabbage loopers organically.
AzaGuard is a botanical insecticide that’s effective against a wide range of pests and is OMRI-listed. It works great against these bad insects. Just follow the instructions that come with your purchase.
13. Pick Off the Caterpillars
If you don’t have any of the above remedies on hand, you can always pick the cabbage looper caterpillars off by hand. This can be a little tedious, but it’s effective.
Moreover, they are big enough that you can spot them easily.
Now that you are familiar with these pests and the natural ways you can go about getting them off your plants, it’s time to take action. Experiment with a few of these remedies, or maybe all, and see which ones work best for you.