Common Pest Problems in Growing Cabbage

Growing cabbage is a rewarding and easy garden project. It’s also one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow, with an impressive list of uses from slaw to coleslaw.

But sometimes, pests sneak up on your otherwise perfect crop and spoil it all. This blog post will help you identify common pest problems in growing cabbage so that you can keep those bugs off your plants.

While growing your cabbages, watch out for the following:

1. Cabbage Looper

1 to 1.5 inches long green caterpillar with a white stripe on either side. It can quickly munch in through the heads and leaves the plant damaged and weak. Gray-brown moths deposit small green eggs on plants and then hatch as destructive larvae in only a few days.


  • Handpick loopers when you saw them.
  • Floating row covers help keep moths from landing and laying eggs on plants
  • Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth on plants that are showing signs of infestation.
  • Make a homemade spray with garlic, cayenne pepper, and biodegradable dish soap, then spray to the underside of leaves.
  • Plant aromatic herbs that attract beneficial insect predators.

2. Root Maggots

These are the larva of root maggot flies that lay eggs at the base of young plants. Eggs that hatched as larva are the white tiny worms on the roots. If the growing cabbage becomes stunted and leaves are wilted, check the roots by gently pulling them and examining their roots.


  • Place paper or cardboard rings around the base of transplants to prevent flies from laying eggs on the ground around the stem.
  • Cover the sown seeds or transplanted cabbages immediately with a floating row cover
  • Sticky traps placed around the garden can also be effective traps for cabbage flies.
  • Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around seedling stems to prevent egg laying by adults.

3. Flea Beetles

They are tiny (1/16 inch length), shiny-coated beetles with large rear legs that make them able to jump like fleas when threatened. Flea beetles feed on plant foliage and can spread disease. They usually attack seedlings and the early vegetative plant stage. They create round holes and sometimes lacey patterns. To identify flea beetles, it’s easier to check for signs of damage than for the beetles themselves, as most probably they jump away already.


  • Cover the sown seeds or transplanted cabbages immediately with a floating row cover or other screening to prevent foliage damage.
  • Sticky traps placed around the garden can also be effective traps.
  • Dusting your plants with plain talcum powder can repel flea beetles.

4. Slugs

They are gastropod mollusk without the shell and can be very damaging as they can eat the entire leaves. You’ll know that you have slugs lurking around in the shiny trail of mucus that they leave. They hide during the day between the crevices under the rocks, boards, and the dense garden, and then they’ll attack at night.


  • Hand-picking is the most effective and low-impact way to control slugs. In addition, they can be easily found at night.
  • Make a trap by putting cabbage leaves, wet newspapers, and boards upside down around the garden. They tend to hide under them. Check back the next day and gather the slugs you find and then destroy them.
  • Another homemade trap involves sinking a vertical-sided bowl or jar in the ground. Use something that has a steep side so that the slugs couldn’t crawl back. Fill with beer for about ¾ full and let it sit overnight. Check back the next morning and gather the drowned slugs.  Dump them off feed to the birds.
  • Apply Diatomaceous earth on the soil around the sides of the container. This is lethal to their soft bodies.
  • Build a barrier around the plants with crushed oyster shells, crushed eggshells, cinders, wood ashes, sawdust, or sharp sand.

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