Organic Cabbage Moth Control

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I noted in my garden journal that I spotted the first cabbage moths of the year on May 15th (2015). I’ve been trying to keep my cabbage rows covered, but there’s other stuff growing in the bed that I’ve been harvesting (spinach mainly), and the peas are beginning to grow up the trellises and need to be out from underneath the cloth covering.

Organic Cabbage Moth Control

Now that my cabbage has been exposed to the moths, I’ve been checking them every day or two, removing the tiny cream colored eggs from underneath the cabbage leaves. You have to be diligent about it, they can be hard to spot. I scrape them off with my fingernail and squish them.

Organic Cabbage Moth Control

Yesterday I spotted the first of the hatching cabbage worms. They usually aren’t too far from a hole in the cabbage leaf. If they’re small I squish them on site. If they’re bigger I pick them off and feed them to the chickens.

I’ve spent the last 16 weeks nurturing these cabbage plants from seed, there ain’t no way I’m gonna let the insects have ’em. They’re so close to being ready to harvest!

Picking eggs and caterpillars by hand, leaving no leaf unturned, is time consuming work. I’m kinda thinking it might be time I try using the natural pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Do any of you use it on your cabbage? Does it work well?

Next year I have to remember not to plant tall growing things with the cabbage so that I can keep them under cover through the cabbage moth season. Oregano, lavender, sage, and clover are supposed to be good companion plants to repel cabbage moths. Maybe I’ll pot some of the herbs up to put near next year’s cabbage bed.

cabbage harvest May 31 2015
First of the cabbage harvest May 2015.

How do you combat cabbage moths and worms naturally?

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About Kendra 1035 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. I planted purple and green cabbage in a bed together. The cabbage moths devestated the green but weren’t attracted to the purple. Since then I only plant the purple. I still keep a watch on them. I am trying the purple brussels and broccoli this year to see it I have the same results.

    • Janice and Kendra, My trouble was with kale, the green curly leaf was killed by the moths but the flat kale (Tuscany?) wasn’t touched. I don’t like the Tuscany either 😉 This year I think I will try all the pots of heavily scented plants all around my kale or I may cover the bed. I love kale but I don’t have patients to be picking off all those little bugs.

  2. Haha, I found your site RE elderberry cuttings… the absolute best pesticide is elder leaf tea. Just put a bunch of leaves in a 5 gal bucket and steep in the sun for a few hours and water all your plants with it. Since you also grow comfrey you can mix this as well… water your plants with the elder and comfrey tea. The elder will be the pesticide and the comfrey will give great nutrients to the plants.

    Great site!

  3. It always amazes me those itty bitty eggs can end up producing something that causes so much devastation to the garden and other foliage.

  4. I just bought some Highland Cress seedlings to combat Cabbage Moth. Apparently you plant the seedlings amongst your cabbage. The Cabbage Moth love to eat the Highland Cress and when they do they die.
    Poisonous for the moths, but good for humans to eat and add to our salads! Sounds like a good thing to me!

  5. I am having a problem with this on my cauliflower, I am planning on ordering praying mantis next yr to help combat the problem. I will try your idea also, we need all the help we can get.

  6. Yesterday I found about four looper caterpillars on each of our dozen cabbage plants.

    I picked them by hand feed the loopers to my chickens.

    Today I will dust the cabbage with DE hoping that may have.

  7. My mom cut out fake moths from a milk jug and put them on a wire hanger and stuck next to her cabbage. She said it’s supposed to make the moths think there are already some there and they will stay away. Not sure if it works as this is her first time trying it.

  8. I bought a butterfly net for around 10 bucks from amazon and have been catching and killing the moths.
    Have killed about 20 in the past week, so far it has seemed to reduce the number of them flying around. Don’t know how it is going to work out overall since this is my first time to try this.

  9. Kendra, I was researching this just today. Two things I’m going to try are 1) m add me a calendula spray 2) companion plant with dill. These tricks should work to keep hornworms away toi. Thanks for the post.

    • Sally,

      I’ve got dill all over in my cabbage bed. Doesn’t seem to have done any good. Just FYI. 🙂 Maybe it would work better for you though?

  10. I read something recently about putting panty hose over the young cabbage, and then as it grows, the hose “grows” with it and keeps the bugs out. Only problem is I can’t remember where I read about it. I thought it sounded like a great idea!? I am not growing cabbage, but I tucked that info into my brain for next year.

  11. I found eggs, and worms and for two weeks leaves have been clear. I cut mint from my mint patch and put in the bed where I have broccoli and cabbage.

    I also keep under netting we made a little too late but trying to make up for it. Keeping fingers crossed.

  12. I don’t know if it’s too cold for pests yet, but I’ve got marigolds planted in all of my garden boxes, and sage in a pot in the center of it all. I’m going to be vigilant about checking for worms (those little jerks ate all of my kale last year!), but so far, so good.

  13. I cover them with nylon netting I get at the fabric store. The kind used for petty coats and crafts. Works great and is reusable if cared for.

  14. I’ve grown sage in the last two years and it seems to work well on my deck plantsI have in pots. This year has been very good. Next year I want to do cabbage and brussel sprouts.

  15. I secured my garden with deer and rodent fencing so I could turn my kitties out safely. They love to hunt and chase the moths. They learned to leave the bees alone (Hot bugs). I’ve never used Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) but I know from others that is one of the best things to do.

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