The caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly are among the most common pests in the domestic kitchen garden. They attack different types of cabbage and eat their leaves. If the hobby gardener does not recognize and combat the infestation in time, the plant can die. We explain how you can drive away the cabbage white butterfly and fight its caterpillars.
1. Drive away cabbage white butterfly: profile and general information about the pest
The small and the large cabbage white butterfly belong to the subfamily “Pierinae”. The two species are common in North America, Europe, and Africa. In terms of appearance, they are confusingly similar. The Small Cabbage White has white wings with a yellowish undertone, while the Large Cabbage White is snow white. The two species can be easily recognized by their black markings on the tips of the wings. In the article we will take a close look at both the large and the small cabbage white butterfly.
1.1. Cabbage White Wanted Poster
- Cabbage White Eggs: light yellow when laid, then change color to dark blue shortly before hatching. The butterfly lays all eggs together on the leaves of the cabbage plants.
- Cabbage White caterpillars: green-yellow in the small cabbage white butterfly and green-yellow with a black head and dark green dots on the body in the large cabbage white butterfly. The small caterpillars stick together in the first caterpillar stage and together attack the cabbage leaves. In the third stage, when they grow up to 4 cm long, the leaves of the crops leave.
- Cabbage White Pupa: The cabbage white butterfly reproduces two to three times a year. The dolls that have to survive the winter can be found on walls and house walls. The caterpillars, which pupate in the warm season, stay on the stalks of the crops.
- Cabbage White Butterflies: with yellowish wings, grow up to 6 cm long. They have black markings on the wing edge and black spots. Pollinating insects.
- Recognize Cabbage White Infestation: Typical features of a cabbage white infestation are: Large holes in the cabbage leaves. Completely eaten cabbage leaves are a sure sign of severe infestation.
1.2. Fighting the cabbage white butterfly: the most important questions about the pest:
1. Cabbage whites are poisonous?
The cabbage white caterpillars have long been considered poisonous. This is because the caterpillars absorb certain pollutants through their food. They have few enemies in nature as they are considered inedible for most birds, wasps and beetles. Unless consumed in very large quantities, they are not toxic to humans. You can also touch the caterpillars and eggs by hand. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to eat the infected leaves.
2. When does the cabbage white pupate?? The first caterpillars hatch in May. For the next three weeks they will eat cabbage leaves and then pupate. The butterflies that fly in mid-June lay eggs in July-August. The second generation caterpillars are active from about mid-July to early September. Then they pupate and do not hatch until next spring.
3. How long does the cabbage white butterfly fly? In Central Europe, the cabbage white butterfly reproduces twice, in good weather – three times a year. The first time is in spring (late April or early May), the second time in midsummer (late July or early August). A third infestation is also possible in warm autumn weather.
2. Drive away cabbage white butterfly: home remedies for the caterpillar
You should not use pesticides in the home garden. If you decide to grow organically, you are doing something good for the environment and at the same time you can enjoy organic vegetables. But what can you do about pests in the vegetable patch??
2.1. Driving away cabbage white butterfly: simple preventive measures:
Collect the eggs, caterpillars and pupae. While this is a tedious task, the results are quick to see. Don’t forget to check the plant leaves once a week. It is also worth checking the plant stalks and the joints of the natural stone walls for pupae at the beginning of spring.
Attract natural enemies: Bird feeders around the vegetable patch will attract goldfinches, sparrows and skylarks. All three bird species eat cabbage white caterpillars. You can also plant buckwheat and cornflowers around the vegetable patch and between the crops. Its flowers provide food for the parasitic wasp, which lays its eggs in the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly. The wasp larvae then emerge from the cabbage white butterfly’s caterpillar. It lives on for some time, but can no longer pupate.
Insert vegetable protection net. It is best to collect all eggs and caterpillars at the first sign of infestation. Then drape the vegetable protection net over the plants and dig in the ends of the net. This means that the butterflies cannot reach the plants to lay their eggs.
2.2. Small cabbage white butterfly: drive away the caterpillars with home remedies
Stone meal: Dust the plants lightly at the first signs of infestation. It is best to do this early in the morning.
Garlic powder: While the stone meal removes the liquid from the caterpillars, the smell of the garlic powder keeps the caterpillars away. It is best to dust the plants early in the morning before the caterpillars come out.
Tomato leaves: Put 500 g of fresh tomato leaves in a plastic bucket and pour 4 liters of tap water over them. Let the leaves soak for 24 hours, then just pour the water into a spray bottle and spray the plants liberally.
It is not always possible to control the cabbage white butterfly caterpillars with just home remedies. If nothing else really works, you can use a biological spray. Products that contain the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis are effective. They only attack pests that feed on the vegetable leaves.