I've got some cabbages and they had some cabbage worms. I picked up the worms and put them outside my fence.

Can the worms smell their way back into my cabbages?

  • If you had cabbage worms on your cabbages, there will be more - they hatch from eggs laid on your plants by the cabbage white butterfly, so also check for eggs prior to fitting row covers
    – Bamboo
    Nov 14, 2017 at 23:32

2 Answers 2


The cabbage worms will definitely find your cabbages. I don't know whether they do it using smell or sight but they will find it. That is the reason to put row cover on the brassicas to avoid any further damage. Before you put the row cover, go through the plants to make sure you have removed all the cabbage worms that are already there.

  • only in butterfly shape no? or as worms they can also find them from some distance ? Nov 15, 2017 at 11:57
  • 1
    The worms get to your plants because the butterfly will land there and lay eggs. So, if you dispose the worms, they will turn into butterfly and find your cabbage. Not sure how long that takes
    – JStorage
    Nov 15, 2017 at 18:47
  • well, I dont mind then keep taking them away, I just have around 10 cabbages. thnx ! Nov 21, 2017 at 17:20

Male worms can get to your cabbages by looking for visual cues (green color).

And remember: The upper side of the male is creamy white.

  • 3
    Is this just hear-say, or do you have more reliable sources?
    – VividD
    Nov 14, 2017 at 20:28
  • So what you're saying is that all the males care about is the color green? In other words, male worms eat any plant that's green? What about the females? Are they more discerning? Is it then the females that go in for cabbages specifically? Could you give us a little more detail on this?
    – Lorel C.
    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:25
  • Every green is different, and it is possible he worms have specialized eye for cabbage green. Light go farther then smell, but it is also more complex. Really every location, sun position, weather cause different "color". And it take a lot of human brain to "correct" this, so it could not be the case of worm (OTOH they could see it just on shorter period on sunset/sunrise, where such effect is more standardized. Nov 15, 2017 at 8:17
  • But thinking again, worms cannot walk a large distances, so I think that the butterfly form, which definitely see colours, will find cabbages. Nov 15, 2017 at 8:18

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