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The Cabbage White Butterfly is a name used to describe two butterfly species; the Large Cabbage Whites (Pieris brassicae) and Small Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae). Both produce caterpillars that feed and damage plants such as Cabbages Brassicas. Large Cabbage White caterpillars are distinctive with yellow and black markings and can be quite large in size; up to 4-5cm. They can produce multiple generations a year and tend to lay eggs in clusters on the underside of leaves. Small Cabbage White caterpillars are smaller, pale green in colour, and up to 3cm in length and will lay individual eggs on the underside of leaves.
The Large Cabbage White caterpillars feed on leaves; making irregular sized holes on the outer leaves. Their favourite plant targets are Cabbages, most Brassica plants, Nasturtiums and Turnips. The Small Cabbage White caterpillars will also feed on the outer leaves, but will also bore into the centre of plants and feed mainly at night. Their favourite plant targets are; Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Radishes, Broccoli, Nasturtiums and other ornamental plants.
Covering plants with netting and fleecing will reduce butterfly egg laying but can also restrict access and air movement to your plants, which may make your plants disease-prone. Keeping your plants healthy is vital as it increases plant resistance to attacks from pests and diseases. One way to ensure this is to provide your plants with calcium. Calcium gives plants a multi-functional boost, reducing diseases and even making plants less attractive to certain pests, such as the Cabbage White Butterfly. Regular applications of liquid calcium, such as our Calcium Boost, will enhance plant health and reduce attacks from pests. Calcium Boost is safe to use on edible plants and does not leave visible residue.
If Cabbage White caterpillars are present on plants, first try to physically remove them but if this is not possible, apply our Caterpillar Killer Nematodes directly onto the caterpillars. The nematodes enter inside the caterpillars and kill them. Nematodes provide a safe and natural way to kill pests on edible plants, as they are harmless to humans.