Cabbage head caterpillar: cabbage pest in Indonesia

Page last updated: Friday, 3 July 2020 - 10:39am

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The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia has worked with the Indonesian potato industry to increase the productivity of their crops planted with WA seed potatoes.

Improved productivity requires accurate identification of pests in potatoes and also in the cabbage rotation crop grown on the same land.

As well as helping Indonesian farmers this information will assist Western Australian seed potato exporters understand the challenges their Indonesian customers face.

Cabbage head caterpillar is a pest of cabbage in Indonesia but not in Western Australia.

Identification

Cabbage head caterpillar’s Indonesian name is “ulat krop” and its scientific name is Crocidolomia pavonana.

Cabbage head caterpillar adult - side view. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Cabbage head caterpillar adult - side view. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Cabbage head caterpillar moths are about 18mm long, light creamy brown with minor dark markings across the back. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Cabbage head caterpillar moth. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong

Cabbage head caterpillar moths are creamy-brown and about 18mm long. At rest, adults hold their wings at an angle and do not sit flat. 

Moths are active only at night and are rarely seen during the day. They can infest crops from early growth through to harvest.

Stages of eggs of cabbage head caterpillar - newly laid eggs are pale green then turn bright yellow and develop an orange crescent and turn dark brown just before hatching. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Stages of eggs of cabbage head caterpillar. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong

Cabbage head caterpillar moths lay eggs overlapping each other in clusters of 10 to 140 eggs. Egg clusters are laid on the underside of leaves.

Newly laid eggs are pale green then turn bright yellow and develop an orange crescent before turning dark brown just before hatching. These egg clusters differ from those of cluster caterpillar (Spodoptera) which are covered with fine scales.

Newly emerged cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Newly emerged cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Young cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Pudijanto
Young cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Pudijanto

Newly hatched cabbage head caterpillar larvae are about 2mm long, hairy and look ‘wet’. They feed in groups.

Near mature cabbage head caterpillar larvae which are light green, hairy with white or pale green stripes along their backs. They feed under a silk cover. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Near mature cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Close up of near mature cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Pudijanto
Close up of near mature cabbage head caterpillar larvae. Photo courtesy Pudijanto

Older larvae are light green and hairy and have white or pale green stripes along their backs. Larvae cover the surface of plants with thick silken webbing and feed beneath it.

Fully developed larvae are 20mm long and when mature, burrow into the soil and form shiny brown cocoons.

Contact information

Stewart Learmonth
+61 (0)8 9777 0167