Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:34 pm

If you discover in the vegetable garden that the cabbage leaves are eaten off, several pests come into question. In this article we tell you how to protect cabbage and reduce feeding damage.

Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle

The Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephalus) is one of the most common pests of cabbage plants. It is not choosy about its food and eats cabbage leaves as well as those of other cruciferous plants such as radish or radish.

Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?


Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?
  • 2 to 4 mm long
  • blue metallic color
  • dot stripes on the elytra
  • clearly visible antennae


  • vegetable nets
  • mulching with plants containing pyrethrum (used for insecticides)
  • for example tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) or motherwort (Tanacetum parthenium)

Tip: When choosing the right protective net, always pay attention to the correct mesh size! For ground fleas, it should be a maximum of 0.8 mm

Bright-line Brown-eye

Bright-line Brown-eye – (Lacanobia oleracea) is a butterfly whose caterpillars have a wide food spectrum. In the garden, they prefer to feed on various types of cabbage.


Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?
  • adult moth brown
  • caterpillar period from August to October
  • caterpillars 45 mm long
  • green, gray or brown ground color, rarely pink
  • small black spots
  • yellowish lateral line

Large cabbage white butterfly


  • pheromone traps to attract adult moths
  • in case of low infestation collect caterpillars
  • in case of heavy infestation use nematodes (from specialized trade)
  • weaken caterpillars and thus reduce harmful effects
  • Large cabbage white butterfly
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If cabbage leaves are eaten off, the great white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) is often responsible. It is one of the most feared pests of cabbage plants. The adult moth lays its eggs directly on the host plants, which include cabbage .


Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?
  • caterpillar period from May to October
  • up to 40 mm long
  • yellowish-green ground color
  • black spots
  • light bristly pubescence


  • Collect caterpillars quickly
  • Use cabbage whitefly ichneumon wasp (Cotesia glomerata)
  • Protect new cabbage plantings with nets

Note: Cabbage whitefly caterpillars are slightly poisonous and should therefore only be handled with gloves. In addition, they should not be fed to chickens

Cabbage Moth

The cabbage moth (Plutella xylostella) or its caterpillars are especially a problem in regions where many cruciferous crops are grown. Since it has developed resistance to most insecticides, control is difficult.


Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?
  • Moth with brownish ground color
  • caterpillars about 8,5 mm long
  • body green
  • head black or brown


  • Set up pheromone traps to monitor pests
  • collect caterpillars
  • Encourage natural enemies
  • for example ichneumon wasps (Diadegma semiclausum) and brackish wasp (Cotesia plutellae)

Tip: Larvae also eat cabbage leaves left on the bed. To prevent spread, shred the cabbage leaves so they compost more quickly, depriving the moths of food.

Cabbage shoot weevil

Infestation by the spotted cabbage shoot weevil (Ceutorhynchus pallidactylus) is often not detected until later, when the plants are already too badly damaged. If cabbage leaves are eaten away, you should therefore react quickly, because beetles and larvae mainly eat holes in the roots, which can lead to thickened areas and later to puny growth.


Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?
  • 2,5 to 3,2 mm long
  • gray, spotted ground color
  • light spot on the elytra
  • strong scaling
  • distinctive “proboscis
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  • set up yellow traps in spring to control infestation
  • caterpillars and eggs difficult to control
  • Encourage natural enemies
  • for example ichneumon wasps (Tersilochus obscurator) or ground beetles

Note: We vehemently discourage the use of insecticides. If at all, we recommend using only neem or canola oil-based sprays in well-dosed amounts


Various species of snails occasionally eat the young leaves of cabbage. Protect young vegetable plants with a slug fence. If you want to avoid using chemical middles in the garden, lay out boards between the cabbage plants. The slugs will hide under them and you can collect them.


It happens from time to time that birds attack vegetable plants. Especially in early spring, when the first cabbage is planted, the large leaves are an attractive food source for various birds.

Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?

These bird species eat cabbage leaves:

  • Blackbirds (Turdus merula)
  • sparrows (Passer domesticus)
  • Pigeons (Columbidae)

A sure sign that the damage is bird-caused is leaf debris left on the ground. Occasionally, they will even simply rip freshly planted cabbage plants out of the ground.


You can try to drive the birds out of the garden using a variety of measures:

  • hang luminous, flashing materials (CDs, aluminum foil) near affected plants.
  • install wind chimes or small wind wheels
  • put up bird dummies
  • Put out bird protection nets (larger mesh size possible)
Cabbage Leaves Eaten: What Animal Eats Cabbage?

Tip: Birds are creatures of habit. So try changing the positions of the aids periodically to disrupt the habituation effect.”

Frequently asked questions

What other pests prey on cabbage ?

Does mixed culture protect cabbage from pests?

In any case, the cultivation of cabbage in a mixed culture is preferable. In this way, aromatic plants such as tomatoes or celery distract the pests from the actually preferred cabbage plants. However, pest infestation of cabbage cannot be completely ruled out by mixed cultivation.

Can a fleece also be used to protect the vegetables?

No, a garden fleece is usually too dense and thus too little light permeability. This can lead to poor growth of cabbage, or rather, that it does not form a thickened shoot axis.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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