5 Ways to Naturally Control the Cabbage Worm

Hidden Springs Homestead may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page. Learn More.

Do you have those pretty little white butterflies fluttering around your garden?  They are pretty but can wreak havoc on your brassica’s.  It’s the notorious Cabbage Worm Moth!

Image of Cabbage Worm Moth

It flits around gracefully landing for just a few seconds, only to flutter off to the next plant.

close up shot of a cabbage moth
Cabbage Moth

Each time it lands, it is leaving a teeny tiny egg that will hatch in about four to eight days and become a notorious cabbage worm.  This little bitty green velvety worm can be very difficult to see until it has caused significant damage to your plant.

cabbage worm on a finger close up
Cabbage Worm

More than likely, you will see it’s fecal matter before you actually see the worm itself.  The cabbage worm will munch on your plant for 8-15 days and then pupae.  About a week later, the pupae will hatch and the adult Cabbage Worm Moth begins a new cycle.

Ways to Naturally Control the Cabbage Worm

Parasitic Wasp or Yellow Jackets

Myself, I despise the yellow jacket but believe it or not, they will eat cabbage worms.  So just maybe they do have a purpose.

The parasitic wasp is very effective in controlling the cabbage worm as well as the Tomato Hornworm.  To attract them to your garden, be sure to plant lots of annual flowering plants in your garden.

Garden Netting

Garden netting has proved to be very effective.  The net cuts off the ability for the butterfly to get to your plant.  Making her unable to lay her eggs and therefore, your cabbages, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc are safer.

Be sure to secure the sides and repair any tears that may be in your net.  This will aide tremendously in preventing her from getting into your plants.

Hand Picking

If at all possible, hand pick the eggs off your plants.  As soon as you see the white butterfly fluttering around the garden, just know that she is there to lay eggs.

As I said before though, they are super tiny and you may not even see a worm until you see their frass or fecal matter they leave behind.  When you see this, look carefully for the cabbage worm and squeeze it with your hand.

Plant Dustings

  • Sprinkle Rye flour or cornmeal over the plant early in the morning while they are still wet with dew.  The worms will eat it, swell and die.
  • Diatomaceous Earth  is finely ground powder.  Sprinkle over plants when they are dry.  Worms will eat it and die.

Another homemade treatment is to use a Garlic Oil Spray.

Recipe for Garlic Oil Concentrate

Smash and peel 1 full garlic head.  In a medium size pot, add in 1 cup of olive oil or 1 cup of mineral oil and the peeled garlic.  Over medium heat, cook for 3-4 or until low bubbles begin to form around the garlic pieces.  Continue to heat and cook for 10 minutes or until garlic turns brown, stirring continuously.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Pour oil and garlic into a mason jar and place a lid on it.  This will be your concentrate.

To make Garlic Oil Spray: Mix 4 cups of water, 2 Tbsp. of liquid soap, and 3 Tbsp. of Garlic Oil Concentrate.  Pour into a sprayer and spray top and bottom sides of leaves on your plants.

For large size cabbages, spray down into crevices between outside large leaves and the cabbage head.

cabbage worm on head of cabbage
Fecal matter on cabbage leaf and a cabbage worm

Garlic Spray can also help to control aphids, leaf hoppers, cabbage loopers, earwigs, squash bugs and whiteflies.

Hope this list has helped you to learn a few ways you can control the cabbage worm.  If you notice the pretty little white butterfly fluttering around your garden, don’t hesitate.  Take action immediately.

Have you been bothered by the cabbage worm in your garden?  What have you tried to control it?

Connect with Hidden Springs Homestead

Follow me on Social Media, so you never miss another post!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Naturally Control the Cabbage Worm”

    1. Hi Jacquie,

      Sure you can do this! There is nothing in it that will be a problem. I normally don’t have any extra left, so I don’t know specifically how long it will last. But for a safe amount, I’d think it would last 2 weeks at least. Just shake well when you use it again to keep mix the oil back into the solution.

    1. Hi Terri,

      I use this I like that is it 10 feet wide so it works for taller plants as well. Or with the cabbage, I lay it across and then roll the side up to the proper width needed. This saves space on storage – sort of a “one size fits all.” And then to hold it up, I use hoops.

    1. Hi Carol,

      I’m so glad you ask this question. The combination of the garlic oil and soap kills the little worms. They cannot digest the garlic/soap combination and they die. It’s cruel, but necessary not to lose your cabbages. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions. I’m happy to help.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top