What is Eating My Broccoli Leaves? : A Guide to Insect Pests

Brocolli is, without a doubt, one of the most satisfying plants to plant and tend. It’s tasty, nutrient-rich and low in calories and grows well in a fall garden. And despite the crop being a tad hardy, there are still some problems that can arise – like when you notice your broccoli leaves have been eaten off. You may be wondering ‘what is eating my broccoli leaves?’

In this article, we’ll discuss more of this and provide some tips on how to protect your broccoli plants.

Insects That Like to Eat Broccoli Leaves

There are several types of insects that are known to enjoy eating broccoli leaves. These include:

  • Cabbage loopers
  • Aphids
  • Cabbage webworms
  • Cabbage worms
  • Diamond moth caterpillars
  • Cutworms
  • Cabbage root maggots
  • Thrips

1. Cabbage looper

These inch-long green caterpillars are quite common, not to mention that they’re also voracious. They’re particularly fond of leafy greens like broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Keep in mind that they don’t limit themselves to the foliage of your crop – they can also burrow into your broccoli heads.

2. Aphids

what is eating my broccoli leaves

These small, soft-bodied insects can be green, black, or brown. They typically congregate in large numbers on the undersides of leaves and suck out the plant’s juices. As if that is not enough, they are also notorious spreaders of diseases. On the positive side, they are quite easy to control.

3. Cabbage webworms

Cabbage webworms have a tan body with brown stripes along the trunk. Their heads are black. They are so destructive to an extent of it taking only two of these obnoxious pests to destroy a whole plant.

They are not only fond of boring into the buds of your plants hence killing them, but they also fold leaves and spin webs around them. This not only affects the aesthetics of your crop but also stunts its growth.

Good thing they are only common in the fall. As such, growing your crop during the spring season could be an easy trick to avoiding them.

4. Cabbage worms

These annoying worms may sound as if they only feast on cabbages, but the reality is that your broccolis are also not safe. Cabbage worms are fond of chewing holes in the leaves of your crop, which can significantly affect its growth.

5. Diamond moth caterpillars

These caterpillars, despite being only a third of an inch in length, are quite destructive and will not hesitate to munch on your broccoli leaves given the chance. Their appearance is unlike that of common caterpillars since their trunk is pointed on each end.

6. Cutworms

what is eating my broccoli leaves

These nocturnal pests earn their name from their habit of cutting through the stems of young plants, which eventually kills them. They’re the larvae of a specific type of moth that belongs to the Noctuidae family.

They can be quite elusive, and you probably won’t know that they are in your garden until you notice the dead plants.

7. Cabbage root maggots

These small white larvae are the offspring of a fly that looks quite similar to a common housefly. The female fly is attracted to cabbage-family plants that have already begun to rot.

Once she lays her eggs in the soil near the plant, the larvae will hatch and start feeding on the roots of your broccoli plants. This not only stunts their growth but can also kill them.

8. Thrips

These tiny, winged pests are black or brown in colour. They’re difficult to spot with the naked eye, but you’ll know they’re around if you see small, dark specks on the leaves of your broccoli plants.

Thrips feed by puncturing the plant cells and sucking out the contents. This not only stunts the growth of your crop but can also lead to deformities.

How to Treat Broccoli For Insects

what is eating my broccoli leaves

If you’re finding that your broccoli plants are being damaged by insects, there are a few things you can do to treat them.

1. Use insecticide

One option is to use an insecticide. The ideal insecticide to use in your garden will vary depending on the kind of pests that are attacking your Broccoli. Most of the time, however, you will be required to use insecticides that contain pyrethrins, permethrin, and spinosad.

Just be sure to read and follow the directions carefully, as some insecticides can be harmful to humans and animals if used improperly.

You can also try using a natural insecticide, such as neem oil. Neem oil is, especially preferred in controlling pests due to its versatility.

2. Use natural remedies

There are a number of natural remedies that can be used to get rid of the pests in your broccoli plants.

The most common natural remedy is to introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, into your garden. These predators will help to control the population of harmful pests, such as aphids and caterpillars.

You can also try using diatomaceous earth, which is a powder made from the fossilized remains of algae. This powder can be sprinkled around the base of your broccoli plants to keep pests away.

Another option is to make a spray from garlic, chilli peppers, and soap. To do this, you will need to blend these ingredients together and then add water to create a spray. This mixture can be sprayed directly on the pests to kill them.

Animals That Like to Eat Broccoli Leaves

what is eating my broccoli leaves

There are a few animals that enjoy snacking on broccoli leaves. These include:

  • Deer: These four-legged browsing animals can do a lot of damage to a broccoli crop in a short amount of time.
  • Rabbits: These small, furry rodents are another common culprit when it comes to eating broccoli plants.
  • Groundhogs: Also known as woodchucks, these burrowing animals are fond of eating the leaves of broccoli plants.

How to Stop Animals from Eating Broccoli Leaves

If your broccoli plants are being damaged by animals, there are a few things you can do to deter them.

1. Use physical barriers

One option is to erect a physical barrier, such as a fence. This will need to be tall enough to deter the animals in question and should extend several inches below ground to prevent them from digging underneath.

2. Uugh, what’s that taste

Another option is to use a taste deterrent. This can be something as simple as spraying the plants with water mixed with garlic or hot pepper sauce. You’ll need to reapply this after it rains or whenever the plants get wet.

3. Use traps

If you have a serious problem with animals eating your broccoli plants, you may need to resort to using traps. There are a variety of traps available, from live traps to lethal traps.

Be sure, however, to check the laws in your area before using any kind of trap, as there may be restrictions.

Related Article: How to Grow Broccoli in Texas?