Small Green Worms Eating Our Kale

Asked May 29, 2018, 4:48 PM EDT

I learned in one of your previous posts (via the picture they provided) that the small green worms we keep finding on our kale leaves are not caterpillars, but "flower fly larva". In their case, it looks like they weren't eating their roses, but in our case, they DO seem to be eating holes right through our kale leaves! We don't want to keep them around because they are damaging all of our kale plants. We check in the mornings and afternoons, but they are always back and with a vengeance. What is the best way to keep them out of our garden?

Clackamas County Oregon insect issues kale kale pests horticulture

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. I'm not sure of what "previous posts" you're referring to, and damage done to one type of plant isn't necessarily caused by the same insects as consume others. Some insects prefer roses; others like leafy greens, and even others prefer fruit.

In order to give you reliable information, we need photos of the damage they're doing to the kale leaves. Some insects chew the edges of the leaves; others do damage in the middle. So, if you'll send some pictures, we can correctly identify them and give you advice about their control. Thanks!

My apologies for the delay! Please see the attached pictures of the kale and worms we keep finding around that area. Thanks,

Susan Nunes

Thank you for the photos, Susan. These are cabbageworm larvae, as you can read about in this Extension article. Suggested controls include Bacillus thuringiensis (that is available commercially under the name Thuricide), which is mentioned in the article. In preparation for next year, using row covers helps to keep the adult egg-laying females out in the first place. Hope this is helpful. Good luck!