I went out to the garden today to weed and discovered large holes in the leaves of my kohlrabi (see photo). What is doing this, and how can I get it to stop, preferably using organic methods so I can eat the kohlrabi leaves myself later? I didn't see any insects when I poked around a bit.

Large broad plant leaf with large round holes in it

2 Answers 2


It is damage from a caterpillar. It has eaten a lot, so it may have metamorphosed into a butterfly already. Look under the leaves and along the stem. If you are keen you can also regularly remove the eggs which are often under the leaves about a centimetre from the edge.

  • I was pretty sure the other answer would be correct, but I never did catch any slugs and new leaves stopped being damaged, so I think you were right and it had flown away! Sep 25, 2020 at 1:57

That looks more like slug damage than cabbageworm damage, especially since many of the holes are in the middle of the leaf and don't hit an edge (caterpillars feed from the outside in, not from the inside out). Another indication of slug damage is the rounded holes. Slugs have tiny teeth and always leave rounded holes, not jagged ones like those left by caterpillars.

To remove the slugs organically, fill a shallow dish with beer and put in your kohlrabi bed. Partially covering it is not a bad idea if you're expecting rain. The slugs are attracted to the beer and drown in it.

  • All the holes seem to be round and most of them are closer to the inner stem than the outer edge so i'm trying the beer trick. If I get dead slugs tomorrow then I'll accept the answer :) Jun 6, 2020 at 20:08
  • 1
    You might have to wait a day or two - kind of depends on the humidity and if it has rained recently. If it's dry, slugs tend to stay underground in "slime havens".
    – Jurp
    Jun 6, 2020 at 22:49
  • thanks -- might explain why I didn't see any when I poked around. I'll check the trap tomorrow and if there's no takers, I'll put it out again after the next time it rains, see if I get any then Jun 7, 2020 at 3:02

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