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Holes in Cabbage, Broccoli and Kale leaves

Have you noticed those beautiful white butterflies flitting across your garden?  Lovely to look at, but what they leave behind is a problem for gardeners.

The larvae of this butterfly as well as the diamondback moth and cabbage looper eat holes in the leaves of cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards and their relatives.

Nature helps control these pests.  Parasitic wasps, ground beetles, soldier bugs and lacewings are all natural predators of these insects.   You will need to tolerate a little damage and avoid using pesticides in your garden so these good guys will move in and help control the pests.

Regularly check along the stems and between leaves for the gelatinous eggs and green caterpillars.  Destroy whatever you find.

Or try the environmentally-friendly Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) sold as Dipel or Thuricide.  The Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt, bacteria kills only true caterpillars and is safe for people, pets, wildlife and other types of insects.

A bit more information:  Prevent the damage by covering these plants with a floating row cover sold as ReeMay, Harvest Guard or Grass Fast.  These polypropylene fabrics allow air, light and water through, but prevent the butterflies and moths from laying their eggs on the plants.  Cover the planting with the fabric anchoring the edges tight to the soil with stones, board or other heavy items.  Leave enough slack for the plants to grow.  Simple and eco-friendly.


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Lake Bluff, IL

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