Excuse me, but there’s a worm in your pesto.
|Kale leaf foliage, |
stripped from the leaf 'rib'.
|The finished product: kale pesto!|
|The finished, finished product: |
kale pesto on homemade pizza.
- Cabbage worm larvae (caterpillars) and eggs
- Aphids - with signs that an infestation was imminent
- Spiders and their webs
Cabbage worms are the larvae (young) of the ubiquitous cabbage butterflies (Pieris rapae) that you see flying around everywhere. The adult butterflies lay their eggs on cruciferous plants: broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, Brussels sprouts and kale. The larvae can’t feed on non-crucifers. Thus, females who make a ‘mistake’ and lay their eggs on a non-cruciferous plant basically doom their young to death by starvation.
I've dealt with the cabbage worms all summer long. Every day when I watered, I carefully picked their eggs off of the kale leaves. I searched the leaves and picked off the caterpillars that hatched from eggs that I missed. I was happy when my husband cleared out a nearby tangle of grape and blackberry canes (i.e. stems), and the spiders promptly migrated from that area and into my vegetable garden. The spiders surely helped to keep the cabbage worm population down - pouncing on caterpillars as they munched on my kale, or entangling the caterpillars in their web. They might even munch on an aphid or two (although, spiders really prefer and need the protein rich meal that the caterpillars offer - much more nutritious than the sac of sugar that is an aphid).
|A late-instar cabbage worm,|
almost ready to build a cocoon.
I pick these off of leaves, as well.
|Spiders munch on cabbage worms|
and other insect pests. I leave
these be in my garden. They're my
pest control buddies.
I went to my pesticide storage container, and decided on 2 products. Both products are organic. When I need to use a pesticide, I prefer using organic pesticides, over synthetic pesticides in my vegetable garden. The major benefit of using an organic pesticide over a synthetic pesticide is that organic pesticides degrade quicker than synthetics, after they are applied. I hate the idea of eating pesticide residues with my vegetables, so when I am treating edible plants, I almost always use an organic product. I want that extra assurance that the vegetables will be pesticide free when I harvest, cook and consume them.
The products are also formulated, so that they will help manage the cabbage worms and the aphids, but that they are unlikely to harm other insects and arthropods. I wanted to protect my garden spiders, afterall. They're my caterpillar eating buddies.
|Label of a narrow-spectrum insecticide with the active|
ingredient Bt-k (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki).
Pay attention to the directions for use. You only need 0.5-1 oz per 50 square foot of garden. One ounce = 2 tablespoons. Thus, for a standard sized 3 foot by 5 foot garden bed, you only need one third to two thirds of a tablespoon. Since this product often comes as a dust formulation, and is packaged in way that you can simply 'shake out' the pesticide, much the same way you might sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of spaghetti, it's unfortunately easy to over apply this pesticide. To avoid over applying, set the dispenser so that the pesticide will lightly sprinkle out of the packaging. Don't open the dispenser all of the way when applying.
|Note that you only need 0.5-1.0 ounces|
per 50 square feet of garden. This is a
very small amount! Be careful not to
|Instead, apply a fine dusting, with the|
container open only the tiniest amount.
|If you apply the dust with all of|
the holes open, you're likely to over
apply this insecticide in your garden.
|Label of an insecticidal soap product, with the|
active ingredient 'Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids'.
Note that the product below has two active ingredients: pyrethrins plus potassium salts of fatty acids (i.e. insectidal soaps). This is an example of a combination product. The product above has only one active ingredient: potassium salts of fatty acids.
|Label of a combination insecticide, including broad|
spectrum pyrethrins, as well as insecticidal soap.