Find more garden information
Cabbage looper. Photos: Ann Whitman
Cabbage looper damage and frass.
Cabbage looper egg.
These green inchworms can make a mess of your broccoli and cabbage plants. They chew on foliage, bore holes into cabbage and broccoli heads, and leave behind unsightly black frass (droppings). Cabbage looper damage is annoying, but rarely causes severe crop loss (cabbageworms cause very similar damage). To remove caterpillars from a harvested head of broccoli or cauliflower, just immerse it in salted water. Loopers will feed on any cabbage-family crops, including cabbage, kale, collard, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Cabbage loopers have no legs in the middle of their body; they hump their bodies as they "inch" along. The adult form of this caterpillar is a gray moth that overwinters in warm climates and then migrates north in springtime to lay eggs. Look for these white eggs on the underside of leaves near the leaf edge.
There may be several generations each year, and they're found throughout North America.
Last updated: 5/7/19
Stay up to date on new articles and advice.
Gardening Success Guaranteed
Garden Lab Designed & Tested
Support a Community that Cares
Expert Garden Advice