Cabbage White Caterpillars

This is what Cabbage White caterpillars look like when left to their own devices. I thought I had squished all of the eggs on my young Cabbages, Broccoli and Kale plants, but no. Apparently, this little clutch of siblings had evaded my thumb. I found them munching through this leaf and promptly nipped it off.

The thing is when they get to the moving stage I just can’t kill them. They’re too, you know, alive. So I put the whole leaf, caterpillars and all, in the compost bin. I’m not sure what will happen to them in there but at least they will have something to eat, if not anywhere to fly to. Oh well.

23 Comments on “Cabbage White Caterpillars

  1. Know how you feel.This year I have managed to pluck up the courage and kill them. It is playing on my mind though.There are so many about this year in my veg patch,they are causing an awful lot of damaged.My fault, I have a viburnum near by,the perfect winter host for them, but the they need somewhere to go in the winter……

  2. You are so much kinder than me ! I hate the little blighters with a vengeance, so when I take the leaf off I turn it over and squash the lot of them all in one swoop. They are all over the nasturtiums in my garden so I have pulled them up. I also have some on the allotment in the brassica cage, which I am picking off.

  3. They’ve been all over our nasturtiums this week (which I don’t mind at all as they take over a corner of our already tiny garden). I wonder if a bit of companion planting would be effective…..

  4. I hate the little blighters. They have decimated the last of my cabbages and kale. I take the easy option and throw the leaves full of them to the chickens, but the damage is too great now for me to salvage the veg.

    Sue xx

  5. Snap – we’ve written about the same thing on the same day!

    I’m more ruthless than you though…

  6. After disasters two years running (I am simply not vigilant enough), I have discovered a way to avoid cabbage white infestation.

    This year, I have planted no brassicas at all. I’ve even found myself looking out the kitchen window and laughing at the butterflys flittering in vain around my courgettes, looking for a lonely brussell sprout – “Fools, I have foiled you at last! Mwahahahaha!”

  7. I can relate to the not squishing them when they start moving (I’ve been putting mine in the compost bin too!)

  8. My current tiny garden is overrun with slugs and snails. Snails I put in the council compost bin (fortnightly collection) but slugs get their heads snipped off because they can squeeze out of the bin. I feel morally ambivalent about killing things so my uneasy compromise is to make it a quick death.

    On reflection (which I try to avoid), maybe the slugs have the easier time of it…

  9. So called Spanish Slugs have invaded my mam`s garden back in Hungary. They are big, yellow and scary. My mam simply sprinkles a pinch of salt on their back and they melt in the sun in seconds. I just run the other direction when i see her with the salt bucket and wait inside with a glass of lemonade until the deed is done… Our slug expert bus driver neighbor suggested to put down a stripe of fake grass around the vegetable patch. Apparently, it scratches their tummy (the slugs`) so they wont climb over it.. it might as well work!

  10. My pet hate in Melbourne. When spring hits Melbourne I will be out in the garden with a butterfly net.

  11. I’ve just been down the bottom of the garden to check my purple sprouting broc. Nothing on it but when the heavens open and the rain is bouncing off the ground doesn’t the trip back up the garden to the house seem like a long one?
    Kay x

  12. We now use an insect netting on the brassicas to keep off the butterflies.

    I collected some one year to make a short video on the lifecycle and found most were infected by the ichneumon wasp but this only kills them after they have eaten up the cabbages.

    If you are interested the film and picture of infested caterpillar is here Butterfly lifecycle

  13. So colorful, where i used to live caterpillars where always brown or dark colors
    I don’t think i could kill them at all.

    Have you tried raising them to have a bunch of butterflies?
    I used to do that when caterpillars attacked my lemon and orange tree, I think is better to work with nature than against nature sometimes

  14. Last year I had my brassicas under netting. It worked…mostly. The problem was that I didn’t tend to check under that netting that often (it was a pain), so any eggs that the cabbage white’s managed to lay ended up with a free reign!

  15. I loathe them, I really do. But I’m also squeamish about killing them. We have put our purple sprouting broccoli in the brassica cage this year, so it is cabbage-white-free, but the brussels and the cabbage have been eaten to the main ribs by this year’s caterpillars, especially since our local fox cubs managed to rip through the fleece that was covering the cabbages.

  16. I’ve thankfully not dealt with any yet, but my they are beautiful in a buggy sort of way.

  17. I can see you point but seriously all that hard work either eaten or spoilt with their waste has turned me after just three years of suffering.
    I even tried to be Mr Kind this year with companion planting and using a garlic solution.
    Next year I am afraid I am going to go chemical as I have done with slugs and seedlings. Any advice on Eco or ‘friendly’ chemicals welcomed!

  18. there’s nothing more satisfying than squashing a cabbage white caterpillar between forefinger and thumb! I’ve yet to try bacillus spray, I have all my brassicas under environmesh tunnels which seems to be keeping them away.

  19. As a novice gardener I paid little thought to caterpillars but they have been munchingquite happily through my broccilli – I have been launching them through the air over the back fence into the building site!!!

  20. Sue – your video sounds fascinating but I must confess I’m a bit scared of watching it :)

  21. All you do is look for them on a leaf and fold them on the inside of the leaf and that its if they are dead, that’s all you need to do or just start spraying, sorry no you can plant other taller plants amongst the veg that stop the butter fly’s finding the veg but they do remember where you planted last and they tend to drop one egg at a time now I have seen the little blighter do that now

  22. Pingback: My Tiny Plot » Blog Archive » Winter Cabbages

  23. They ate almost all the leaves of our young fruit trees. We killed them by spraying but want to do everything organically by permaculture principles. Are there any companion plants which drive them away?