We have really been getting into the vegetable gardening this summer. It has been great to be able to go and get some fresh carrots or a cucumber from the garden whenever we need them. We have also been enjoying home grown beetroot, garlic and peas.
A few weeks ago I planted some broccoli seeds and was successful in getting two nice healthy plants. I have never grown broccoli before so only having two plants will allow me to get some practice at growing them. I planted them out into the vegie garden a couple of weeks ago but lately I have noticed the leaves were being eaten by cabbage white butterfly larvae.
I knew that brassica plants such as cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts were susceptible to the white butterfly. That had been one reason why my family had avoided growing them in the past!
Actually I can’t believe that I am even trying to grow broccoli! As a kid I HATED it. In fact it was only once I got into my thirties that I started to enjoy eating it! Now we eat a fair bit of it so I thought it would be fun to have a go at growing it.
Since I got into gardening I have enjoyed watching Gardening Australia to see what hints and tips they have. A few months ago I saw a story about an organic farmer called Diana Bickford who was growing vegetables. She was using white plastic butterfly cut-outs to deter the cabbage white butterfly.
As it turns out the cabbage white butterfly is territorial. So having a fake plastic white butterfly near you brassica crops will deter any real white butterflies from laying their eggs on your plants. This was something that I was keen to try with my broccoli plants.
Up till now I have been picking off the green caterpillars as I see them but that is very tedious and once the broccoli gets a flower head they will be harder to find.
So I have just made up some plastic white butterflies and I have them hanging from pieces of wire just above the broccoli plants.
The plastic butterflies were made using a template that I found online (sorry the link is gone now!). I printed out the butterflies and laminated them so that they would survive some summer sun and getting wet.
I prefer to avoid using any chemicals on the caterpillars because most insect sprays will kill off the good insects along with the bad ones. I have also read that there are natural predators like wasps and spiders that might eat the caterpillars.
We have seen a few small wasps working away around our garden so I hope that they help us out by eating a few of the white butterfly caterpillars!
If you are like me and want to avoid sprays; here are some other suggested ways to deter cabbage white butterfly.
Non-Chemical Control of Cabbage White Butterfly
- placing eggshells around plants
- picking off caterpillars
- putting netting over plants
- planting nasturtiums nearby (attracts them away from your crops)
- interesting idea is to sprinkle the damp foliage with household flour so that the caterpillars get clogged up and fall off
If you would like more information on controlling cabbage white butterfly I can recommend the following link:
I can’t wait to see if the fake butterflies do the trick!