Monday, November 9, 2009

Pests/Diseases: Cabbage Loppers

Currently there is a bed of the garden planted in turnip greens, radishes, soybeans, and finally collard green. The bed was planted for the fall, and the soybeans are left over from a late summer planting.

The collard greens and the radishes closest to the soybeans are being attacked by a group of cabbage loppers. Cabbage loppers are small green caterpillars that, according to Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver, “Feed on cabbage family crops (collard greens), lettuce, spinach-family crops, peas, tomatoes, and other crops.” A quick google search found that “other crops” include soybeans. Seems I’ve created a good habitat for these caterpillars.

The damage is mostly to the collard greens. The caterpillars have eaten young leaves to their ribs.

Peas lie in the next bed over and I have seen no damage. There is also collard greens planted in another part of the garden—a part removed from proximity to soybeans—that has no damage.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver suggests attracting beneficial insects to the garden (natural predators of the cabbage lopper) to control the pest problem. The clearest predator of cabbage loppers listed in the Problem Solver book is the Spined Soldier Bug. It also suggests row covers, which I see would have been beneficial in my case, handpicking them, which I’ve been doing for the past three days, and a spray of garlic or hot pepper.

What I am also going to try is 1) leaving the soybeans alone as long as I can. If the caterpillars are attracted to soybeans, I’d rather they eat them than the collards. 2) Dressing the collards and radishes with compost and mulching with leaves, which should make it a little more difficult for the caterpillars to move from plant to plant.

No comments: