Cabbage Looper

How to thwart the cabbage looper.

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Cabbage looper larva
Cabbage Looper Larva
Cabbage looper moth
Cabbage Looper Moth

Trichoplusia ni

Description
Adults: gray moths with a silver spot in the middle of each forewing (1 1/2- to 2-inch wingspan). Larvae: green, 1 1/2-inch caterpillars with two white lines down their backs, one along each side; they move by looping their bodies. Eggs: light green, dome-shaped, on undersides of leaves. Common throughout most of United States and southern Canada.

Damage
Larvae chew large holes in leaves of cabbage family plants and many other vegetable crops. May damage whole plants.

Life Cycle
Moths emerge from overwintering pupae in mid-spring and lay eggs on leaves; larvae feed 2 to 4 weeks, then pupate 10 days in cocoons attached to stems or leaves. Three to four generations per year.

Control
Scout for and destroy eggs on undersides of leaves. Handpick adults several times weekly; attract native parasitic wasps by planting pollen and nectar plants; till in crop residues before adults emerge in spring; spray larvae with BTK or garlic oil. As a last resort for severe infestations, spray with pyrethrin.

Keep Reading: Cabbbage Growing Guide

Larva photo: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Slide Set, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Bugwood.org
Moth photo: Keith Naylor, Bugwood.org

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