WARNING – White Cabbage butterflies about, look out! In Autumn & Spring, it really doesn’t take much to get disheartened growing produce. This is especially so when white butterflies and moths sweep in and drop their eggs on your lush green brassica crop.
The destructive caterpillars
White Cabbage Butterfly is white with distinct black spots on the wings and is around 40mm across. The Cabbage Moth is more grayish, small, and around 10mm across. The butterflies and moths lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. When the eggs hatch they are very small caterpillars and it takes a few days before you realise they are present. One day you might see small holes, a few days later the caterpillars have grown and are eating through your lush green produce rather fast.
The White Cabbage Butterfly caterpillars are a blue-green colour with a smooth texture. Caterpillars with the greeny-brown markings come from the Cabbage Moth. So which plants are going to be targeted? I’m sure you guessed Cabbage. You’ll also find them devouring broccoli, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, beetroot, rocket, and watercress.
At first signs you need to stay vigilant, they will take your crop out if you let them.
- Check the underside of the leaves and remove them
- Companion planting: They dislike really strong herbs like dill, sage & coriander
- Predator bugs: Green mantis, paper wasps, lacewings, and ladybirds
- They dislike insecticidal soaps (homemade)
- They are very territorial and don’t like other cabbage white butterflies or moths in their area
Over the years I’ve tried many different strategies, but by far the best strategy is defense. As soon as you notice the pretty butterflies fluttering around, head off to the hardware store a pick up a few essential items to defend your patch.
Homemade cabbage butterflies
What you’ll need:
Cord flute signboard (about $5 from Bunnings)
A long piece of dowel cut into various lengths
Black permanent marker & pen
Also a hammer
Steps in making the white butterflies:
1: Make the template and trace it onto your core flute board
2: Cut out the shapes and add the spots
3: Attach the shapes to the end of the stakes with a nail. Tip: Put the nail through the shape before you hammer it onto the stake
4: Position around your leafy greens
You can make these with recycled ice cream containers as well. This is a fun activity to do with the kids, and a great way to teach them about your veggie patch visitors. We have loads of other fun ideas in our Kids Garden Fun section.