What Do Cabbage White Caterpillars Eat?

A common caterpillar that one may find in your garden is the cabbage white caterpillar. As a gardener, it would be best to know what they eat so you understand any damage they may cause to gardens. So, what do cabbage white caterpillars eat?

As the name suggests, cabbage white caterpillars will eat cabbages. However, they will also eat other vegetables in the Brassica family.

While these white caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies that look pretty in gardens, they can be a problem. The holes you will find in your cabbage are caused by these caterpillars.

Other than feeding on cabbage leaves, these caterpillars will also consume leaves of other plants like kale and brussels sprouts. 

Do Cabbage White Caterpillars Only Eat Cabbage?

If you are planning to grow some cabbage in your garden, you should be concerned about cabbage white caterpillars eating them. Due to the name, many people incorrectly assume that cabbage white caterpillars will only consume cabbage.

However, cabbage white caterpillars will not only feed on cabbage but also on other cabbage plants and other Brassicas such as broccoli and Brussels.

Do Cabbage White Caterpillars Eat Broccoli?

Unfortunately, another plant that cabbage white caterpillars like to feed on includes broccoli. The primary source of food for cabbage white caterpillars might be cabbages but this is not their exclusive diet.

If cabbages are unavailable, they will move on to consume other plant leaves. You will often find these worms hiding on the underside of the leaves and in the crevices that leaves form.

What Do Cabbage White Caterpillars Look Like?

It is important to identify cabbage white caterpillars in your garden so you can control them before they cause extensive damage. You should know a few things about cabbage white caterpillars regarding their appearance:

One of the stages of cabbage white caterpillars is cabbage loopers, which is the moth’s larval stage. These cabbage loopers are brown and greyish in colour.

This caterpillar moves like a worm. The fully-grown caterpillars are pale green (almost yellow) in colour, which enables them to hide among the leaves. They tend to have black dots along the length of their body.

What Do Cabbage Caterpillar Eggs Look Like?

The cabbage butterflies will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves or in dips and crevices formed by leaves. The eggs are white when freshly laid; however, as the eggs mature, they turn yellow. These eggs will take just seven days or so to hatch. 

When the cabbage worm eggs hatch, the larvae will immediately feed on the leaves. You can tell that the eggs have hatched from the damage they cause to the leaves. The damage comes in the form of grey and shallow markings on the leaves.

During this time, the larvae are not mature enough to eat through the entire leaf.

What Are Signs of a Cabbage Caterpillar Problem 

It would be helpful to know how to detect the problems of a cabbage caterpillar so you can tell that you have them early on. By detecting these cabbage caterpillars in your garden, you will be more efficient in getting rid of them. 

The first thing you should do is check out the underside of the leaves, as they tend to hide there. You will notice considerable damage as the bugs mature with time. One of the major and most obvious signs of cabbage caterpillars is chewed-up leaves.

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You will notice black droppings left behind by the cabbage caterpillars on the plants. This indicates that they have been eating and then pooping on the leaves.

How to Get Rid of Cabbage White Caterpillars

Cabbage white caterpillars, fortunately, do not pose any threat to humans. The plants which these caterpillars eat are also safe for humans to consume. However, having cabbage white caterpillars in your garden is not good for the health of your veggies.

These butterfly larvae cause extensive damage to plants, stunting their growth and reducing your yield. Here we have a few ways you can stop this issue and get rid of cabbage white caterpillars:

  • The first thing you can do is to use a butterfly-proof net all over your susceptible veg. It is important to ensure that the edging of the net is secure to keep butterflies out. The aim of the net is to prevent butterflies from getting in and then laying their eggs.
  • You can effectively deal with the cabbage caterpillars in your garden by attracting natural predators. You can attract birds into your garden which feed on caterpillars, including goldfinch, skylarks, and sparrows.
  • Another way to get rid of caterpillars is by using parasitic wasps. These wasps will attack the larvae.

Summary 

One of the fascinating insects you will find in your garden is cabbage caterpillars. These caterpillars, as the name suggests, primarily feed on cabbage plants. However, cabbage caterpillars will also consume other plants, including broccoli, kale or brussels sprouts. 

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