- Cabbage

Cabbage Cabbage

Cabbage White Butterfly


Pieris brassicae

In a Nutshell

  • Large holes in the outer leaves.
  • Blue-green frass on the inside of the leaf or in the heart of the cabbage.
  • Caterpillars and their excrement are often found on the plants.
 - Cabbage

Cabbage Cabbage


Damage to the outer leaves is also a clear sign of their presence. Beside the holes in the outer leaves, the damage to the cabbage head may be visible in the inner leaves when the heart is cut through. Caterpillars and their excrement are also often found on the plants. All types of Brassica crops are affected, including cabbages, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, swede and turnips. Also some weeds may be affected.

Boost your yield with the mobile crop doctor!

Get it now for free!



The butterfly has a black body and gleaming white wings with a conspicuous black tip on the forewing (and two black dots in females). A few weeks after emerging from the pupal stage, females lay greenish-yellow eggs on the underside of leaves. After hatching, the caterpillars start to feed on the plant tissues. The caterpillars bore into the hearts of cabbages.

Organic Control

The pest can be controlled by parasitoids, Cotesia glomerata attacks the larvae of P. brassicae, while pteromalus puparam controls it during the pupal stage. Products based on the naturally occurring bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis or Saccharopolyspora spinosa (spinosad), are very effective when sprayed thoroughly on upper and lower leaf surfaces. These insecticides do not persist in the environment. A pathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, is also available against the caterpillars and must be used when foliage is wet, for example during cool dull weather.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures and biological treatments, if available. Products based on the active ingredient pyrethrum, lambda-cyhalothrin or deltamethrin can be used against the caterpillars. Extracts of pyrethrum can be applied several times and up to one day before harvest. For lambda-cyhalothrin and deltamethrin, a maximum of 2 applications is recommended and a seven-day harvest interval must be respected.

Preventive Measures

  • Monitor the field regularly for signs of the disease, particularly the underside of leaves.
  • Remove any leaf that has egg clusters.
  • Pick and remove caterpillars from the leaves by hand.
  • Prevent females from laying eggs by covering plants with an insect-proof mesh.
  • Control the use of pesticides that could affect beneficial insects and birds.
  • Avoid planting susceptible plants near the cabbage fields.
  • Remove weeds as they can serve as alternative hosts.

Are you a plant disease expert?

Earn cash money by annotating images of infected plants and help farmers around the world! Interested?
Take the test to qualify for the job!

Start Test

Boost your yield with the mobile crop doctor!

Get it now for free!