The Very Hungry Caterpillars

The weather this week has been just gorgeous, so it has been a pleasure to go out each morning and make a loop around the winter veggies to pull stray weeds, keep seedlings watered, and to get the lawn sprinklers going. Oh, and I have a new job during that walk-about as well.

Since the earthquake didn't manage to shake these guys off, I have to pick the cabbage loopers off all the plants they are eating. This one is on a cabbage seedling. If you're having trouble seeing him, I am too. They are ever-so-cleverly the exact same color as the leaves of all plants in the cabbage family: cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. To make it even harder, they are very often right in the center of the leaf along the vein, and they are well-camouflaged there because they look like a continuation of that. That's where this one is, in case you haven't put your contacts in yet today. He's right below the giant holes chewed in the leaves.

If a few tiny holes were the only issue, I would let well enough alone, but these aren't a few tiny holes in a big plant. On a seedling, that's actually quite a bit of surface area, and that will affect photosynthesis and growth in a big way. Left to their own devices, you get turnip greens that look like this:

So yeah, they've gotta go. Each morning I put on a pair of garden gloves and pick them off the plants. Or sometimes I just squeeze them in place if they are stubborn. The squishing sensation, even with the gloves, is a little gross, but wimps don't earn much cabbage. Each day there are fewer, so hopefully between the Bt and the mechanical removal, their life cycle will be interrupted.

Get off my bok choy, you bastard.


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