I noticed small holes in my kale and was concerned. When I looked under the leaf I saw this green worm (easy to spot).

On more inspection I identified another 15 worms on this kale plant and another few on a different kale plant (same type).

I have a number of questions. What is this worm? How did it get there all of a sudden? How do they multiply? How do I get rid of them organically? Will it attack other types of kale plants I have in the same raised bed? Will it attack yellow squash plants in the same raised bed?

Small worm by hole on a Kale leaf


cabbage worm and control

Cabbage worm

I've seen these little dudes often. They can damage quite a bit...see the white moths, their parents? Very common. This is the first article I've found that give 'yellow jackets' or wasps a bit of credit. They love these yummy little caterpillars. Bt is another perfect 'pesticide to spray but please do it at night and only on the brassiccas; cabbage, broccoli, kale...next year create a chunk of your garden early to grow kale or another tough brassica, before planting your cash crop. These cabbage worms and parents will gravitate to your 'trap crop' to do their thing and LEAVE your garden.

Yellow Jackets or wasps eat these larvae. They love them.

These 'worms' are larvae of those white moths. Trap crop or Bacillus thuringiensis and yellow jacket wasps are the best controls.

Bt is a bacteria that makes this 'toxin' that when eaten by caterpillars, or larvae of these moths eat leaves sprayed with Bt actually 'feel full' and stop eating. Immediately. They die of starvation. I've always thought that that might make a great 'diet miracle pill'...the damage these little 'worms' doesn't make your crop inedible. Totally safe...wash before eating. Use a cup of hydrogen peroxide to 5 gallons of water to wash your vegetables. Rinse again with plain water, shake and use in your salads or whatever. Growing your own is very smart.

  • Aka cabbage loop caterpillars and the moths look more like little white butterflies than the average yucky bodied moths. Good detailed answer @stormy
    – Christy B.
    Jun 11 '17 at 3:32
  • Does the cabbage worm attack squash? Also I put these little guys in my compost bin. Was that a bad idea?
    – JStorage
    Jun 11 '17 at 4:01
  • 1
    No, not to worry. The larvae, those little worms aren't interested in anything other than what mommy moth left them to eat. Do not worry about compost, just fine. You won't have any problems until next year. Remember this time of year. I forgot to include ROW CLOTH. When you plant you brassicas, cauliflower, mustards, broccoli, cabbage, keep them covered with row cloth. Bury the edges in soil so mommy moth is unable to find your brassica crops. You'll have no trouble at all. Keep them covered until about this time of year. If you have a 'trap' crop that would also help.
    – stormy
    Jun 11 '17 at 20:13

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