Broccoli Worms- How do I get rid of them

frontiercc2's picture

I hope you'll humor me as I've wandered over from Breaktime.   . . . . 


I love broccoli and grow it every year.  But I have problems with those little green worms in the heads.  Not very appetizing when I steam the broccoli and find little worms in it. 


Can anyone reccommend a (preferably organic) solution to get rid of these little worms from my broccoli?  I'm not sure what to use or when to use it since I'll be applying to what I actually eat . . .


TIA for any advice . . . . .

Astrid's picture

(post #12476, reply #1 of 8)

One thing you can do is take a step before cooking, soak the broccoli in salty water before cooking. The worms will float to the surface so you can remove them before they reach your dinner plate.

The best way to prevent an invasion of cabbage loopers is to place row cover over plants as soon as they are put in the ground, and leave the covering on until the harvest is over. The cover will prevent most of the worms and moths from finding the broccoli. Once your harvest is over you should remove all the remains of the plants from the garden to prevent carry over of larvae. The adult stage of the cabbage looper is a gray moth that flies by night. They can be stopped by sticky traps placed among the plants.

The worms travel like inch worms, "looping" their bodies as they crawl over the plants. If you see one, just squish it. They are full of green stuff! :-) Cabbage loopers have many natural enemies, including yellow jackets and various parasitic wasps. Planting companion plants which attract these enemies will help cut down on damage to cabbage and other brassica plants. Nectar producing flowering plants planted with broccoli, such as calendula, english daisies, tansy and yarrow attract many beneficial insects which will parasitize and kill the worms. You may even find a mummified worm which has become parasitized if you look closely.
The subject of beneficial insects is fascinating, and once you realize and see how many of them there are in your garden you will wonder why you never really noticed them before. If you want to get really serious about them you will need a good magnifying glass to see most of them, though some are large enough to be seen by the naked eye. One user friendly book on the subject is Great Garden Companions, by Sally Jean Cunningham.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

Edited 5/11/2006 3:51 pm by Astrid


Edited 5/11/2006 3:59 pm by Astrid

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Celeste's picture

(post #12476, reply #2 of 8)

Good suggestions from Astrid, but I want to add my two cents about birds. One day when we lived in San Francisco, I was sitting on my back steps that led down into the vegetable garden. As I sat there quietly, two birds came into the garden and systematically cleared worm after worm after worm off of my broccoli and brussel sprout plants. I hadn't even realized I had worms in them! Since then, I do everything that I can to attract birds to my gardens. I think the most important thing that I do to attract insect-eating birds is to provide year-round clean water sources for them. Every day I wipe out the bird baths with a paper towel and add clean water. For the winter, I have a heated bird bath (my DH calls it "the bird hot tub!")

 


Southeastern West Virginia, Zone 5b

 

San Francisco, CA, Zone 10

frontiercc2's picture

(post #12476, reply #3 of 8)

Thanks for the advice.  I have some row cover in the shed.  Guess I'll get it out this afternoon and get working. 

LIBugGuy's picture

(post #12476, reply #4 of 8)

No one has mentioned the other broccoli worm, a pest of most plants in the cabbage/mustard family. This velvety green caterpillar is not a looper, and the adult is the white butterfly so common in summer.  Control of this critter is same as for the looper...

Selling plants from an orange box, and doing a bit of design on the side- LI NY, Zone 7ish...

Selling plants from the Orange box, and doing a little garden work on the side.

LI, NY, almost zone 7, but it's been warmer of late :)

Astrid's picture

(post #12476, reply #5 of 8)

I just noticed yesterday that my big italian parsley is host to 4-5 parsley worms of small size, which I hope will survive and become beautiful black swallowtail butterflies.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
KimmSr's picture

(post #12476, reply #6 of 8)

The floating row covers will help keep Ma Moth, those wee white fluttery butterfly like thingys that flit around, from reaching the plants to lay her eggs, but if the Broccolli already has the extra protein on them Bacillus thuringiensis - Kurstaki sprayed on the plants will help more. Soaking the heads in a brine solution when they are brought into the house will also help you finding half a worm while eating some. 

West central Michigan along the lake shore


A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lake shore

A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

Karen's picture

(post #12476, reply #7 of 8)

I've used the Bacillus thuringiensis on broccoli before and it worked well.

North Carolina - zone 7

North Carolina - zone 7

dtgardengirl's picture

(post #12476, reply #8 of 8)

I saw something on a garden show that could be an organic help.  Someone had worms on cabbage, I think.  They dusted the plant with self-rising flour.  The worms ingested some and during the heat of the day, you guessed it, the flour rose inside the worms killing them. 


Organic, simple, and cheap.  If anyone tries this, let us know how it it works.