Garden Apocalypse: The Cabbage Looper Invasion

by | Jul 4, 2013 | Food, Michigan

The Cabbage Looper war in Crazy Charlie’s pickle patch!

Attacking the cabbage loopers with garlic

Finding cabbage loopers eating our cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts was devastating. We built a 4 foot fence to keep the deer and rabbits from eating our greens, little did we know that butterflies were our worst enemy. Ever wonder about those cute white moths hovering just above your garden? Well you should because they are laying eggs that hatch green caterpillars that have a huge appetite.

Cabbage Looper

Cabbage Looper Damage

Yes that little caterpillar did this in just a few days!

Cabbage Looper handywork

Interview with distraught gardener


How do you rid your garden of cabbage loopers?

Well the first thing you do is google it. We found a garlic spray recipe on Vegetable Gardening Made Simple.

The second thing I recommend is to stay in control when you take the garlic spray to the garden. Charlie said the plan was to “test” the spray on one plant. He was not in control and sprayed everything including me!

Charlie spraying garlic spray

I was pretty sure he’d killed the entire garden. The plants wilted in the sun from garlic spray.

Aftermath of Garlic Spray

The next day the garden looked much better but we still have cabbage loopers. It has been raining since the garlic application and we need to reapply but I’m a bit afraid to suggest it.  Along with the garlic spray you need to pick the green bugs off the plants which is not fun. Installing row covers will keep the butterflies from laying the eggs in the first place but clearly this is not an option at this point. You need to do this in the early spring. We’ve planted the marigolds, sunflowers and dill that should attract beneficial insects but maybe we need more of these plants. We may need to resort to spraying Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Is a naturally occurring bacterial disease that only attacks caterpillars.

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