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Cabbage Butterfly

How to get rid of White Cabbage Moths is a question asked often by gardeners. It doesn’t matter whether you call it a white cabbage moth or a white cabbage butterfly the small-cabbage-white-ling-1142230_960_720problems it causes are the same.

These little guys cause devastation and destruction wherever they lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into little green grubs which chomp their way through everything in their path. If that’s not enough they poo everywhere and it gets between the leaves of the cabbage so you think you have a lovely cabbage but when you cut it it is packed with poo – yuck!

Last year they ruined my whole cabbage crop. Chomped through the broccoli and pooped all over the cauliflower.

They just love the Brassica family of plants which along with cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower also includes brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnip. Other important agricultural crops in the family include horseradish, radish, and white mustard. So I set out to find a way to keep them out of my garden.

I really don’t like using sprays in my veggie patch so the solution had to be pretty

A grub free cauliflower
A grub free cauliflower

environmentally friendly.

I read heaps of stuff about them and discussed the problem with my gardening friends. Everyone has the same problem but not many had any simple solution. One friend swears by growing garlic near by – I’ve always grown garlic and I’ve always had cabbage moths so I wasn’t convinced that garlic was the solution although it does seem to work for keeping aphids off my roses.

My husband is convinced that the only way is to chase them, catch them and squash them but you just can’t be there all the time.

You see them fluttering around your garden they seem harmless enough then next time you look at your cabbage plants there are grubs on them. Very well camouflaged grubs  – they are exactly the same color as the plants so are hard to see.

The most interesting thing I discovered with my research is that they are territorial and if they see another moth they’ll go somewhere else. This sounded promising so I decided to make some fake moths and put them  in my garden. I have been absolutely blown away by the success I haven’t seen one moth and have had no grubs – success.

This is how I got rid of the cabbage moths from my garden

I downloaded an image of a moth and duplicated it few times then I cut them out and20160615_111334 covered them with 2 layers of clear contact ( you know the stuff that kids cover their books with). I found that one wasn’t waterproof enough and they got wrecked the first rain. Also the more firm laminate was too stiff. I then folded them in half (so they look more like a live moth) then I put a hole in them and strung them onto fishing line.

Just do one at a time I found it  was quite tricky to get them to hang properly I had to have the holes right in the middle. I put a few small stakes in the ground and randomly strung the fishing line out with the moths so they would move in the breeze and look like and move like real moths. At first I was worried that they all seemed to move to the same spot on the line but I decided that it really didn’t matter.

I really thought I had solved the problem all by myself with this idea then I was watching a gardening show the other day and they had a similar idea but they stuck them on the end of a stick and pushed them in the ground near the plants they were trying to protect.  I like my idea better because the moths actually flutter like a real moth. My friend said she had tried the ones on a stick before and she saw a moth land on the fake moth. I honestly haven’t even seen a moth in my whole yard since I started doing this. My gardener friends still have moths though. Maybe I’ll trade some fake moths for some seedlings.

20160615_111323-copyIt is important to put the moths out as soon as you put your seedlings in moths don’t care how small the plant is when they lay their eggs.

Do you have any simple ideas to solve problems in the garden I’d love you to share them below.

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