Cabbage moths are not pests but their cabbage looper larvae most definitely are! The word cabbage is misleading because not only do they eat the heads of cabbage but also everything green, leafy, young, and growing. This includes lettuce, cucumber, spinach, celery, parsley, beets, peas, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Long list, right?!
How do I keep cabbage moths away?
Plant wormwood, thyme, marigolds, tomatoes and tansy nearby to repel cabbage worms. And plant yarrow to attract beneficials, such as wasps that eat cabbage loopers.
Help, all my greens are nearly gone!
If it’s eating everything, it’s probably a looper. Hand pick, hand pick, hand pick. Search for poop and pick off the soft, loopy caterpillars grabbing onto the underside of stems. Relocate those to the compost if you can or near a hedge that has birds. Check every leaf. And come back an hour later and check again.
Cabbage loopers are attracted to mustard plants, so planting mustard (aka as a sacrifice plant) in your veggie patch can be a good trap for cabbage worms. Once they take over the mustard, you can add it to your compost or a green bin.
The larvae are called loopers because they arch their backs into a loop when they crawl. They can cause a lot of damage quickly. You most likely will see their frass (poop) before you see these masters of disguise. Pick them off when you find them and always look for more.