Get A Handle On Pesky Cabbage Worms With 2 Ingredients You Already Have

Have you ever stepped outside on a fine summer morning only to find your garden looking like green Swiss cheese? Cabbage worms are the larval stage of cabbage whites (Pieris rapae), also known as small whites, cabbage butterflies, or cabbage moths. While the butterflies themselves look quite lovely, their offspring can wreak havoc on a vegetable garden, particularly cabbages and other brassicas. Cabbage whites will lay eggs on the underside of cabbage leaves, which then hatch and start munching away holes in your crops. Luckily, you don't have to sacrifice your cabbages to practice organic gardening. To eliminate cabbage worms, create a tasty mixture of flour and salt, sprinkle it on the cabbages, and they'll die away in a matter of days.  

Organic gardening has its benefits and challenges, but a cabbage worm invasion doesn't have to be one of them. Here's how you can control cabbage worms with just a few items from your pantry and other ideas for keeping these pesky larvae away. 

Dust your vegetables with flour and salt

Cabbage worms are actually a good sign that you've raised some strong and healthy organic crops, but that doesn't mean you have to share with these slimy neighbors. To get rid of cabbage worms, gather up some salt and flour from your kitchen. Rye flour, all-purpose flour, or even cornmeal will work best. In a large bowl or container, mix together one part salt and two parts flour, enough to sprinkle over your affected garden plants. For extra good measure, you can also throw in some diatomaceous earth. 

Just after the morning dew has formed or after you water your vegetable garden, dust the flour and salt mixture on top of your cabbages. The wet leaves will help the mixture stay on the plants instead of falling to the earth or blowing away in the wind. When the cabbage worms wake up and start to nibble on your leaves, they'll ingest some of the flour and salt mixture. Flour and cornmeal will expand inside the caterpillars' bellies, causing them to bloat, while salt dehydrates them from the inside out, eventually killing them. 

Eliminate cabbage worms naturally

Using flour and salt to remove cabbage worms is a brilliant idea because it's affordable, simple, and totally chemical-free. Flour and salt may not be good for cabbage worms, but they're a much safer option for your garden plants, local wildlife, and the environment. Cabbage worms don't just go after cabbages; they also love to munch on cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnips, beets, bok choy, and kale. You can sprinkle the flour and salt over your other vegetables to protect them too!

In addition to this pesticide-free dusting solution, there are plenty of other ways to naturally reduce cabbage worms in your garden. Prevention is one of the best methods, so consider draping your garden with a net to prevent cabbage moths from laying eggs. Another smart idea is to attract birds to your garden space. Set up birdbaths, birdhouses, and bird feeders nearby to encourage birds to stop by for a snack. Leave paper wasp and yellow jacket nests alone, too, as these insects love to hunt caterpillars.  Finally, you're the smartest predator of them all! Handpick any cabbage worms you see and drown them in soapy water or toss them to your chickens.