Until this year, we’ve had very little experience with harmful insects sabotaging our efforts to raise our own produce. This season, after inspecting the growing number of leafless broccoli plants, I discovered we are dealing with imported cabbageworms. (And that lower leaf appears to have a problem with a leaf miner.) These little fellows are well camouflaged and, until a great deal of damage is already done, very tiny.
I’ve learned that every time the cabbage butterfly lands, it lays a transparent tiny egg. The best management would be with a light row cover, which I don’t have. Fortunately, I have small patches so I’m taking ten minutes a day checking the tops and undersides of leaves, squishing those I discover with a gloved hand. I’m not satisfied until I see their insides ooze out since they’re a very lethargic larvae and may seem dead by not moving.
Another interesting solution I read was to sprinkle the affected plants with cornmeal while they are wet and the caterpillars will ingest it, bloat, and die. I haven’t tried this yet since I don’t think the size of my crops warrant it, but it is an interesting suggestion.
There is a parasitic wasp that the imported cabbageworm hosts and they very effectively control the invaders. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered any. I have noticed many spiders elsewhere in my garden and I’ve been careful not to disturb them hoping they’ll manage any other unidentified insect infestations before they’re out of hand.
Have you ever dealt with garden pests? How did you manage them?