Caterpillar vs Cabbage

Will the hungry caterpillar win the battle for your brassicas?

Quite possibly. But don’t worry if you lose the first round as there is a silver lining…

In the UK we have several species of ‘cabbage white’ butterflies: the Large White, the Small White, the Green-veined White and the dainty rare Wood White.

Whichever species is in our garden, I have given up trying to net
them off our cabbages as the result invariably looks like this, a
butterfly happily trapped inside the net…

Luckily there is a design flaw in the lifecycle of this elegant yet irritating butterfly…its eggs are bright orange, hence easy to detect and destroy. The eggs are usually found on the backs of your cabbage leaves.

I recommend checking your cabbages at least every other day because if you don’t catch the caterpillars in time, this is what happens to your crop:

The Good News

If you don’t catch the caterpillars in time and your brassicas end up being eaten to bits and looking like this, don’t worry – they will regenerate.

And the really good news is that when a plant is damaged by insect feeding, it senses the threat and springs into action, creating defense compounds to deter the pest.

Some of the defense compounds the plant produces are phenolic compounds, which may serve as strong antioxidants with multiple human health benefits that are gaining attention.

See this article on that claims that “Plant phenolics have been reported to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties, as well as being antitumor agents. They also have been used to treat skin disorders, such as psoriasis, and have demonstrated the potential to lower blood pressure“.

More about Brassicas

According to Wikipedia, Brassica species and varieties commonly used for food include: broccolicauliflowercabbagechoy sumrutabagaturnip

A dislike for cabbage or broccoli can result from the fact that these plants contain a compound similar to phenylthiocarbamide(PTC), which is either bitter or tasteless to people depending on their taste buds.

Here are some eggs in my garden for reference!


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