Brassica broccoli crop pest cabbage white butterfly feeding on curly kale leaves

Cabbage white caterpillars

Time to act:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov

The caterpillars of both the small and large cabbage white butterflies are are the two culprits. The first is pale green with a body up to 2.5cm long, the second is bigger at 4cm and is yellow with black markings. The adult butterflies lay eggs at different times: the small from February to April and again in late-summer, the large in April and May. This means the caterpillars can be busily munching away from early spring through to autumn.


Caterpillars eating holes in the outer and inner leaves of brassicas, with nasturtiums also being attacked.

Find it on

brassicas and nasturtiums



Cover plants with horticultural fleece to prevent butterflies reaching the leaves. Check plants regularly and pick off any caterpillars that do make it through. Spray young caterpillars as they hatch with the biological control Steinernema carpcapse.


With heavy infestations, use an insecticide based on pyrethrum (only use once a season on crops).


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