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Jun 27, 2016
The Cabbage Luper: Friend or Foe?
Tiffany Heater  Account Manager | Burpee

Those little white butterflies might look cute flitting through your garden, and they may deceive you that they are friendly pollinators when they stop by your lavender to take a sip. But if you are growing broccoli, kale, cabbage or any other cruciferous veggies, if you saw the butterflies, you will more than likely experience the next generation of those cute butterflies as very hungry caterpillars!

Usually called cabbage lupers, there are a number of white butterflies that are green-veggie-munching caterpillars when they are young. Depending on where you live, you might have the Great Southern White Butterfly, European Cabbage Butterfly or another similar species.
This pest can be easily managed without chemical sprays by just plucking the caterpillars off your crops. If you start to notice small holes evolving into large holes on your cool season crops, look along the tops or bottoms of the most damaged leaves for a little green caterpillar. They are what they eat, and will usually be camouflaged the same color as the leaf they were just munching. When you find one, it’s up to you on how you want to dispose of it, but we find it is a welcome addition to the bird feeder!

More tips on proactive pest control can be found at our Podcast page here.

Reader Comments (4)
Do they attack the lavender also?
Friday, July 1, 2016 | Ruth alfred
Cabbage Lupers tend to prefer veggies in the cabbage family: Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale etc. They don’t usually go after lavender. If you have a bug you want us to ID, send us a picture and we would be happy to help!
Friday, July 1, 2016 | Tiffany Heater
Yes, I have noticed the little white butterflies on the lavender. I am more familiar with the spelling looper, though.
Friday, July 1, 2016 | Maria Held
I had this problem last year with my first time growing broccoli and cauliflower. It was too late once I realized what the problem was. This year I vowed to be proactive with these plants and the addition of brussels sprouts. As soon as I saw the first little hole in the leave I started scouring leaves for the green monsters but didn't find any. I kept at it regularly, then finally started finding and removing them. Even in doing this, the problem continued. I would continue to see the white butterflies around the garden, and treated with an insecticide spray (didn't know what else to do!), but the problem kept getting worse and my continued efforts to find more catepillars was to no avail. I think my crop is all destroyed, do you have any tips for me for next year?
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | Debbie
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