Cabbage head caterpillar: cabbage pest in Indonesia

Page last updated: Thursday, 17 November 2022 - 2:43pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Management

Minor damage by cabbage head caterpillar larvae to the heart of a cabbage plant. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Minor damage by cabbage head caterpillar larvae to cabbage. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Severe damage by cabbage head caterpillar larvae to cabbage. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong
Severe damage by cabbage head caterpillar larvae to cabbage. Photo courtesy Mike Furlong

Cabbage head caterpillar is very destructive because larvae feed on the growing leaves in the heart of cabbage plants. Once the heart is destroyed, larvae move out to the leaf tips and then feed on older leaves. Most infested plants will be completely destroyed if cabbage head caterpillar is not controlled.

Cabbage head caterpillar larvae are attacked by generalist predators and insect killing fungal diseases. They are sometimes attacked by a parasitic wasp, but this natural enemy does not provide effective control.

These natural control agents help control the pest but they are killed when broad-spectrum insecticides are used.

Cabbage head caterpillar is susceptible to most insecticides but these must be selected carefully to ensure they do not disrupt the natural enemies of diamondback moth. The most effective approach to managing diamondback moth is integrated pest management.

Monitor crops weekly for cabbage head caterpillar by checking 50 plants across the crop.

Checking for egg clusters is a good indication of the potential pressure from larvae. Removal of egg clusters will help in protecting crops. Only plants with larvae should be recorded as infested, because insecticides do not kill eggs.

Do not attempt to control moths with insecticides.

Spray when more than 10% plants are damaged by cabbage head caterpillar. This would be five of 50 plants damaged.

Destroy crop residues as soon as possible after harvest.

Acknowledgment

Funding for this work to support Indonesian potato farmers and WA seed potato exports was provided by ACIAR (the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia.