How soon can I re-plant in an area that had cabbage loopers

Asked August 17, 2017, 2:00 PM EDT

Hello, I had to pull out all of my lettuce seedlings that were growing in my raised bed for a fall crop. There were tons and tons of black eggs everywhere and little green "worms" were eating them bare. I removed all the lettuce and tried to remove all the green worms that I could see. When would I be able to re-plant lettuce in this same area? There may be some black eggs on top of the soil here and there. Will they hatch and will I have the same problem again? With the lettuce gone, should I wait until the eggs hatch and the worms die off from no food source? How long will this take? I will use a floating row cover this time around. Or is it better to just plant somewhere else? I just bought some lettuce transplants and want to make sure I hold off on planting them to avoid another infestation.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

You can replant now, though moving the lettuce bed to another area is a good idea if it's not too much trouble.

Also, do use the row cover, especially if you plant in the same area. However, the black egg-like things you saw were not cabbage looper eggs, which are pale greenish-yellow and tiny. The black balls were excrement from the multitudes of cabbage loopers.

It's always a good idea to first, identify the pest (which you did) and then, read through the pest profile in the Common Problems on the Grow It Eat It section of our website, in order to be familiar with the life stages and behavior. All the better to outwit it.

Here's the cabbage looper page with more tips on cabbage looper control: