By Sandra Nelson
Here in the Midwest, July seems to be the time when the insects take over the garden. Just this morning I found this critter hanging out in my carrot patch.
I was about to send him to the great caterpillar resting spot in the sky when a little voice in my head stopped me. “Wait, it said, ‘that could be a future butterfly. You must save and protect him.” Turns out that he was a baby cabbage looper that had probably fallen off of my nearby tomato plants and was intent on serious vegetable damage before his tumble. Had I been more familiar with garden insects, I would have immediately known what to do — which in this case was to send him on his way instead of gently returning him to his bug buffet.
Hoping to help you avoid the same unfortunate experience, the staff at Embassy Landscape Group will be devoting our Tuesday blogs to some of the common insects — both good and bad — visiting your landscape now.
Let’s start with the
Known as a looper because of its distinctive movement style, these insects are found throughout the United States. In its adult stage, it is a greyish brown colored moth with a white or silver Y mark on each forewing.
The cabbage looper typically produces 5 to 7 generations each summer. Moths lay their round, pale yellow eggs on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves of host plants and hatch within a 3 to 10 day period. They voraciously consume plant foliage for three to four weeks and can completely destroy mature host plants almost overnight. Although they are usually found in vegetable patches (especially on cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes), cabbage loopers also feed on some flower species such as snapdragons, carnations, hollyhocks and chrysanthemums.
Because they are so destructive, it is advisable to eliminate them as soon as you see either the eggs or the larvae. Hand pick and remove them from the garden. Applications of insecticidal soaps and Bacillus thuringiensis sprays (Bt) can be effective when larvae are small. Plant tolerant varieties and keep garden beds free of weeds and plant debris where moths can lay eggs.