Learning how to get rid of cabbage worms is important if you want to grow this veggie. These worms are a common problem for gardeners who grow cabbage, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables.

Get Rid of Cabbage Worms

These pests can quickly infest your garden and cause significant damage to your crops, leaving you with stunted, damaged, or even wholly ruined plants. This comprehensive guide will explore the various methods for removing cabbage insects.

How To Eliminate Cabbage Worms Naturally?

To eliminate cabbage worms naturally, you can try handpicking and trapping them, as these are two effective methods. They’re simple and cost-effective and do not involve harmful pesticides or chemicals. Making homemade sprays from hot pepper, garlic, or vinegar can also help get rid of these pests.

These worms are common pests that can damage your garden and reduce your harvest. Preventing cabbage worm infestation can be challenging, but several effective methods exist to eliminate them.

1. Handpicking Worms

Check your plants for any signs of worms, cabbage worm poop, or cabbage worm eggs. Look for small white or green worms and their black or green droppings on the leaves. You can also look for small, white, cylindrical eggs on the undersides of the leaves.

Handpick the worms off the leaves and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. This will kill the worms and prevent them from infesting your plants.

2. Trapping Worms

Cabbage moths are attracted to light, so you can use this to your advantage by using light traps. You can make simple sticky traps by hanging a light bulb over a bucket of soap water. The moths will be captivated by the light, fall into the bucket, and drown. Alternatively, you can use pheromone traps that attract male moths.

These traps use a scent that mimics the female moth and confuses the male moths, preventing them from mating and reproducing. You can also plant trap crops on your garden bed to prevent cabbage worms. 

3. Using Neem Oil Spray

Neem oil spray is a natural and effective way to control worms. This oil is a derivative of the neem tree, homegrown in India, and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and agriculture.

Neem Oil Spray for Worms

This oil contains azadirachtin, a compound that disrupts the feeding and growth of worms and other insect pests. You can also use tansy oil if it’s available. Mix one or two tablespoons of neem oil with 1 gallon of water and add a few drops of soap to let the oil mix with the water. Shake the mixture well.

Spray neem mixture onto the cabbages or Brussels sprouts plants and thoroughly cover the leaves and stems. You can use a garden sprayer or a spray bottle to apply the spray. Thoroughly spray the top and bottom of the cabbage leaves.

Repeat the oil spray application every 7-14 days to control these worms. This oil is safe for plants, but excessive use can cause damage to beneficial insects, so use it sparingly and only as needed.

4. Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth

It is a powdery substance that resembles baking soda made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It is a natural and non-toxic way to control worms and other garden pests. Make sure to purchase food-grade substances safe for use around pets, people, and plants.

Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth

Apply DE to plants: Sprinkle a light dusting of the mixture on the leaves and stems of the plants. The tiny abrasive particles in the DE will scratch the soft-bodied worms, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Reapply after rain or watering: DE can be washed off by rain or watering, so it is important to reapply it after any significant moisture. You can also reapply it every 7-14 days to ensure continued protection.

5. Using a Bacillus Thuringiensis Spray

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is an organically occurring soil bacterium that produces proteins toxic to certain insects and their larvae. It is the best pesticide for cabbage worms. Here are the steps to use this spray to control these worms:

Choose a spray: Purchase a BT spray for cabbage worms damage labeled on these worms. BT is available in both liquid and powder forms.

Mix the spray: Follow the instructions on the label to mix the spray with water. Some BT products may require additional mixing or preparation steps.

Spray the cabbage plants: Spray the BT solution on the stems and leaves of the plants, making sure to cover the entire plant. The worms will ingest the BT protein when they eat the leaves, causing them to stop feeding and eventually die.

Reapply as needed: BT breaks down quickly in sunlight, so it may need to be reapplied every 7-10 days or after significant rainfall. Follow the label instructions for reapplication.

If you are using BT to control worms in an area where butterflies are present, avoid spraying them directly.

6. Using Row Covers

Using floating row covers is a preventative measure to help keep these worms off your plants. Cover your plants with lightweight fabric or netting to keep the worms from laying eggs on the leaves.

7. Companion Planting

Companion planting is a preventive measure that can help to deter moths and protect your plants. The principle of this planting is to grow plants that have a beneficial relationship with each other, either by repelling pests or by attracting beneficial insects, such as Trichogramma wasps, Japanese beetles, or parasitic wasps that eat cabbage worms.

Companion Planting for Preventing Worms

One of the best plants for cabbage is aromatic herbs such as thyme, mint, and sage. These herbs have strong scents that repel moths and other pests. Planting these herbs around your plants or intercropping them with your cabbage can help to deter moths.

Another good plant for cabbage is celery. Celery contains a natural compound called apigenin that repels moths. Planting celery near your cabbage can help to prevent moth infestations.

Marigolds are also a good companion plant for cabbage. Marigolds have a strong scent that repels many pests, including moths. Planting marigolds around your plants or intercropping them with your cabbage can help to deter moths.

8. Performing Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is valuable for removing your garden’s cabbage worm life cycle. By rotating the location of your crops, you can disrupt the life of these pests and reduce their population.

Avoid planting members of the Brassicaceae family, such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli, in the same area year after year. Instead, rotate these crops with plants from other families, such as tomatoes or beans, to reduce the risk of infestations.

Additionally, consider planting crops that cabbage worms eat, like collard greens or nasturtiums, to lure worms away from your main crop. By implementing crop rotation and cropping strategies, you can protect your garden from damage by cabbage worms.

9. Planting Red and Purple Varieties

Planting purple and red cabbage varieties in your garden can be an effective way to control worms. These plants contain high levels of anthocyanin, a pigment that makes them appear purple or red. This pigment repels these worms and other pests, making it difficult for them to infest your crops.

Here are some purple and red varieties of cabbage and related plants that you can consider planting in your garden:

Red and purple cabbage: These plants naturally resist these worms and other pests. Planting them in your garden can help to repel these insects and keep your crops healthy.

Purple and red kale: Kale is another leafy green vegetable highly resistant to worms. The purple and red varieties of kale contain high levels of anthocyanin, which helps to deter pests and keep your plants healthy.

Red lettuce: Red lettuce is an excellent option for gardeners looking to control worms. It is highly resistant to pests and contains high anthocyanin levels, making it an effective natural pesticide.

10. Using Decoy Cabbage Moths

Using decoy moths is an innovative and natural method to control worms. The decoy moths are made from a plastic or cloth material and have the same shape and size as real moths.

By placing these decoy moths in your garden, you can attract male moths and prevent them from mating with female moths. This method is also known as mating disruption and can be highly effective in reducing the number of these worms in your garden. Here are the steps to use decoy moths in your garden:

  • Purchase decoy moths from a gardening store or online retailer. They are often sold in packs and can be reused from year to year.
  • Place the decoy moths in your garden before the moths start mating. Place them where these worms are most prevalent, such as near your cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower plants.
  • The decoy moths should be spaced out around your garden. Placing at least one decoy moth for every 100 square feet of garden space is recommended.
  • The decoy moths work by releasing a scent that attracts male moths. When the male moths arrive, they will be confused and unable to find a female moth to mate with.
  • This will disrupt the cabbage moths’ mating cycle and decrease the number of these worms in your garden.
  • The decoy moths should be left in your garden for the growing season. After the growing season, store them in a dry and cool place until the next planting season.

11. Using Garlic Spray

Garlic is a natural insecticide and can repel cabbage worms. Crush a few cloves of garlic and keep them in hot water overnight. Strain the mixture and spray it on the affected plants. Add a few drops of soap to allow the solution to stick to the leaves. Repeat this process every few days until you see the worms disappear.

12. Employing Hot Pepper Spray

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a natural homemade spray for cabbage worms that can stop cabbage worms. Mix one tablespoon of hot pepper powder with one quart of water and spray it on the infected plants.

You might wonder, “Will dish soap kill cabbage worms?” Well, yes, it can. You can add a few drops of soap to help the solution stick to the leaves. Be sure to wear gloves when handling hot peppers to avoid skin irritation.

13. Using Vegetable Oil Spray

A vegetable oil spray can suffocate cabbage worms. Mix one tablespoon of soap with two cups of water and one cup of vegetable oil. Shake the mixture and spray it on the infected plants.

The oil coats the caterpillars and makes it difficult for them to breathe, eventually suffocating them. This method is effective against cabbage worms, but be sure not to spray on hot, sunny days as it can cause the leaves to burn.

14. Using Vinegar Spray

Vinegar is a natural insecticide that can kill cabbage worms and help control pests. You can make a simple vinegar spray at home to create a natural and effective pesticide for cabbage worms.

  • Mix one part vinegar (it should be white) and three parts water in a spray bottle and add a few drops of soap. Shake well to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Spray the solution directly onto the cabbage worms and the affected areas of the plants.
  • The vinegar’s acidity will help repel and kill the cabbage worms, while the soap will help break down their protective coating. Reapply the spray as necessary, particularly after rain or heavy watering.

These steps can effectively deter cabbage worms and protect brassica vegetables from further damage. Remember to regularly monitor your plants and take action at the first indication of a cabbage worm infestation to prevent it from spreading.

How To Identify Cabbage Worm Damage in Your Garden?

To identify cabbage worm damage in your garden, look for signs like holes in the leaves, chewed edges, yellowing leaves, or green worms. Imported cabbage worms are one of the most common pests that can cause damage to your garden, especially if you grow cabbage, broccoli, or other cruciferous vegetables.

These pests, including diamondback moths and cabbage loopers, can quickly devour your crops throughout their life cycle, leaving you with little to no harvest.

1. Holes in the Leaves

One of the most apparent signs of cabbage white or Pieris rapae butterfly damage is holes in the leaves of your plants.

Holes in Plants Leaves

These holes are often small and circular and can be found all over the leaves. If you notice gaps in the leaves of your plants, scrutinize them for any signs of worms or cabbage looper.

2. Chewed Edges of Leaves

Another common sign of damage by cabbage looper is the chewed edges of leaves. These worms tend to start eating from the edges of the leaves, leaving behind a ragged and irregular pattern of damage. If you notice chewed edges on your leaves, inspect the undersides of the cabbage leaves for any signs of worms.

3. Presence of Green Worms

These worms are green, making them difficult to spot on your plants. However, if you look closely, you can usually see the worms crawling on the leaves of your plants. You can also check for small green or yellow eggs laid by the butterflies on the leaves.

4. Yellowing or Wilting Leaves

These worms can cause the leaves of your plants to turn yellow or wilt, especially if the infestation is severe. Remember to inspect your plants regularly for any signs of infestation, and don’t hesitate to use natural or chemical solutions to control the pests if necessary.

With a little effort, you could keep your garden free of these worms and enjoy healthy, thriving plants all season long.


Cabbage worms can be frustrating for gardeners, but several ways exist to control and prevent their damage. The article also discusses the signs of cabbage worm damage, such as holes and chewed edges of leaves, and offers tips on how to identify and control these pests. Here are some key points highlighted in this article:

  • There are a few natural solutions for controlling these pests, including handpicking, trapping, and using neem oil spray.
  • These methods are effective and can be used by novice and experienced gardeners who want to protect their plants and enjoy a bountiful harvest.
  • Crop rotation and companion planting can also be effective at controlling cabbage worm infestations.
  • Some of the most effective methods include home remedies such as handpicking and trapping, neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and different homemade sprays.
  • Using row covers can also help prevent moths from laying eggs on your plants. Decoy cabbage moths can reduce the number of worms as well.

We hope this article answers all your questions about these worms, so start using some cabbage-worm-repellent natural solutions and let us know if they are effective in your garden.

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