5 Signs That Cabbage Worms are Attacking Your Garden

Posted on Apr 13 2012 - 1:10am by Mike Lieberman

By Justin Emig
Associate Brand Manager, Safer Brand

For most of the country, Spring has DEFINITELY sprung…

…and with the onset of Spring, comes the onset of our unwelcome garden pests.

The garden pest that has caused the most concern for organic gardeners in recent years has been the cabbage worm.

There are several ‘types’ of cabbage worm which include the Imported Cabbage Worm, Cabbage Looper, Cabbage Webworm, and the Leaf Miner.

Regardless of the type, us interested in keeping an organic garden just want them gone!! Here are 5 signs that you might be infested with our green pests and best of all, how to get rid of these ferocious vegetable eaters.

Here are 5 signs that your garden might be infested with cabbage worms. — Tweet This.

Signs you have cabbage worms

1. You are growing their favorite food

As you can guess from their name, cabbage worms primarily attack plants in the cabbage family, but are not exclusively cabbage feeders. Plants that cabbage worms find the most tasty are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Turnip greens
  • Radishes
  • Other cabbage greens

2. You have holes in your plants

Since cabbage worms are such voracious eaters, as little as 2 or 3 worms on your plants can spell disaster for the overall health of your broccoli or other plant.

Common signs will be holes in your leaves. A simple google search can connect you to many pictures of cabbage worm damage.

3. You notice dark green droppings on your leaves

A tell-tale sign that you are becoming infested with cabbage worms are their droppings. When you start to notice dark green droppings on your leaves, inspect the underside of your leaves as that is where cabbage worms tend to lay their eggs.

4. A lot more butterflies present

Since caterpillars are in essence the larvae stage of caterpillars, if you start to notice more butterflies hanging around your garden, chances are, you have an infestation of cabbage worms or if you experience one of the previous symptoms, it might be too late.

5. Time of year = Spring

Spring is the time of the year that cabbage worms have awaken from their Winter slumber and are now in search of food and laying their eggs.

Organic control of cabbage worms

If you have experienced this infestation in the past or for those proactive gardeners who are getting prepared for the already started 2012 gardening season, the most common and popular organic control for cabbage worms revolves around the use of bacillus thuringiensis or BT.

This natural bacteria eliminates cabbage worms through ingestion. One of the most popular BT products is Safer® Brand Caterpillar Killer with BT and is available in an 8oz concentrated formula or in Safer® Brand Garden Dust which is a powder formula and is OMRI® Listed.

Your turn

In the comments below, let me know if you have noticed cabbage worms in your garden.

Photos courtesy of
Top: OSU Master Gardener on Flickr
Holes: florence_craye on Flick