The cabbage worm (Pieris rapae) is a destructive pest whose larvae can destroy cabbage crops and their kin.
The 1-1/4inch long cabbageworm has a rich green color with short fine hairs and light yellow stripes along its side and back. It has 5 sets of legs which can easily be seen.
Their adult counterparts grow into white or light yellow butterflies that have a 1-2 inch wingspan with black dots on their wings.
The females emerge in early spring, mate, and lay up to 200 eggs on the underside of cabbage leaves. The eggs hatch in about a week into larvae caterpillars.
The larvae feed for a little over two weeks on the surface layer of cabbage leafs, then pupate for 10 days before a new generation is born.
During the early spring months when the female's start to lay their eggs, a natural solution to rid your garden of these pests is to introduce beneficial insects like the green lacewing and parasitic wasps where cabbage crops grow.
Birds are also a natural enemy for the cabbage worms, but if you have pets, you may want to consider keeping your cat or dog away from your garden since they are predators to birds.
Floating garden row covers can be used to keep adults from laying eggs on your valuable cabbage crops.
Natural gardeners have been known to spray tansy oil on their cabbages to prevent the butterflies from laying eggs. Also, tansy that is planted near your crops can discourage them from laying eggs.
You can also pick the pesky caterpillars off of plants and drop them into warm soapy water to destroy them.
If you have chickens, in the warmer months when cabbage worms are noticeable, they will pick the insects and any other worm pests on your garden after crops have matured.
Once fall arrives, you can til your garden to allow birds a final treat before flying off for the winter.