Tiny green worms eating my broccoli leaves.

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by rick162iq, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. rick162iq

    rick162iq New Seed

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    I have been picking these tiny little green worms off of my broccoli. They have been leaving holes in the leaves, however my broccoli is doing great. The worms can't keep up with it and I don't have any broccoli heads yet. Are these worms just going to eat the leaves? Or are they going to go after my heads when they come up, also? I am trying to avoid spraying them with BT. I used all of it combating the tomato horn worms during the summer. What do you guys think?
     



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  2. kathyd

    kathyd In Flower

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    This happened to me one fall and my broccoli never did well. I ended up pulling it out. It turned out to be the caterpillars of the Cabbage White Butterfly.
     
  3. Henry Johnson

    Henry Johnson In Flower

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    Hey, Rick;
    Sounds like what we call 'cabbage loopers' in my neck of the woods.. If so, they are the larval stage of a small white butterfly that's about the size of a quarter or half-dollar.. And they will destroy (almost completely consume) your broccoli plants if not controlled but they can be controlled (by hand picking if you're only dealing with a few plants and are very diligent;) the eggs will be in clusters on the underside of leaves in varying shades of pale orange, crush these when you find them which will be more effective than searching out each individual worm.. .....................Hank
     
  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Rick, I don't know if this will work for you--it worked once for me (notice the once) when I couldn't get my hands on the right kind of BT.
    Table salt. Just take a salt shaker out and salt the little loopers down. You don't have to use much, and the amount you do use won't hurt your broccoli. I don't know if it was the broccoli fairy that made the loopers disappear, or the salt, or my swearing heartily at them, but the loopers did go away.
    Try it on a plant and see what happens.
     
  5. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    I agree, Cabbage loopers. Do you see smallish white butterflies floating around the lawn and garden? If so, Most assuredly this is what you are battling. this has been the worst year ever for them here.

    [​IMG]
    cabbage looper ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )

    I still have a few plants out in the garden so I went to see if there were some nasty little creatures on them....
    Hand picking them is almost impossible. You really need to spray with something, whether it is organic such as the Bt or synthetic. Give Jane's salt a try, but do it in the morning when there is dew on the plants and then wash them off after an hour or so. You don't want to burn the plants when the sun comes out and warms it all up. You could also try a soapy water spray, which I have done, myself. I resorted to a synthetic spray, though, after several weeks of not being able to control them.

    :(
     
  6. rick162iq

    rick162iq New Seed

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    Thank you everybody for your comments. Are the loopers going to harm the broccoli heads of just the leaves?
     
  7. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Rick, as Hank said, the loopers will consume the broccoli plant, head and all, if allowed. They get into the head, eat away and riddle the broccoli head.
    Then there's the problem of getting them out of a head that YOU want to eat. Loopers are not the way you want to add protein to your dinner. I immerse broccoli heads in cold salt water for a few minutes, just in case. Loopers can't swim, but they do float.
     
  8. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Rick, they are like spiders, they spin/have webs/silk and are very hard to get out from inside of the crown. Whether you eat it raw or cook it, you'll have the worms on your plate or in the salad or cooking water. BLECH! So you'll really want to get them out of there (control them) while your plants/heads are small. Janes method of soaking in salt water is very effective, but I'd just as soon not have them at all.
     
  9. waretrop

    waretrop Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    I gave up on them. I grow the garden for food not for experimentation. I have been spraying with something that breaks down and leaves the plant and ground within weeks. Every year they make something different but it beats having that war between bug and human. Us human always loose trying to be nice.

    Also after bringing broccoli or cauliflower or anything in that family in from outside, I soak it in salt water in a sink just to make sure all those worms are gone. Boiled or not, I really don't want to eat them if I can help it. I have this black bowl that I soaked cauliflower in with water and salt. Low and behold after half hour, I found those little buggers at the bottom of the dark bowl. YUK! Now I soak and rinse and soak and rinse.

    Barb in Pa.
     
  10. Pricklypear

    Pricklypear Seedling

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    I use BT on all cabbage family plants including broccoli and cauliflower. I start spraying when I see tiny cabbage lopers. BT does a great job for me.

    It's safe for people and pets.

    Never heard about the salt trick though. Thanks for your question. I'll have to try that one.