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Pests on Broccoli Leaves! [With Control Tips]

Pests on Broccoli leaves pose a problem in harvest, as you land on your garden patch and expect to pick up the produce, but to your surprise, they are munched away!

Some pests on Broccoli leaves include Aphids, Cabbage Moths, Diamondback Moth Caterpillars, Cabbage Loopers, Webworms, Root Maggots, Cutworms, Flea Beetles, and Furry Critters. To control them, use pesticides, row covers, and barriers or promote manual methods like handpicking. 

Your Broccoli is never safe from hungry pests, but by proper lookout, it’s easy to evade their forehand attacks. Let’s go through the common pests and foil their plans of infestation!

What are the Pests on Broccoli Leaves?

Broccoli is a prime winter crop with high nutrition and low calories and comes in several varieties.

There are many culinary uses for Broccoli varieties, especially its green leaves. Still, they are a daytime meal for several greedy pests, and they’re a common thing to notice in winter.

Image represents Broccoli plant
Broccoli produces lush, green leaves which have many uses in culinary delights, but pests and critters also equally favor them.

But, this can be disastrous for your garden patch as the pests can spread to other vegetables.

However, you can prevent the spread and early attacks easily with a few homey tips as your spare.

So, let’s learn about common culprits of Broccoli leaves and their control measures.

1. Aphids

Aphids are soft-bodied, fast-reproducing, tiny, pear-shaped insects that suck nutrient-rich liquids from the underside of Broccoli leaves.

Since they hide under the leaves, they are hard to notice. But they do leave some noticeable signs.

Signs of Aphid Attack

  • Gradual discoloring or yellowing and wrinkling leaves.
  • Distorting leaf surface and margins.
  • Curling and appearance of honeydew on the surface and edge of petioles.
Image represents Aphid infestation on Broccoli stem.
Aphids hide under the Broccoli leaves and suck out the sap rendering the leaves unhealthy.

Treatment for Aphids

  • Knock the aphids and their eggs using a strong blast of water.
  • Spray flour water in the early morning to encrust the aphids.
  • Under serious infestation, apply neem oil or horticultural oil sprays once a week or every 3 days.

2. Cabbage Moths

Cabbage Moths are the number one adversary of Broccoli leaves. They are checkered moths with feathery bodies.

These Moths also hide under the Broccoli leaves and lay eggs. Caterpillar larvae develop from eggs and feed on the leaves or fruit.

However, their small eggs go unnoticed, and caterpillars slowly eat away the leaves from the underside.

Signs of Cabbage Moths Attacks

  • Presence of holes on the leaves with serrated bite marks.
  • Irregular leaf margins due to bite marks.

Treatment For Cabbage Moths

  • Hand-pick the worms from the leaves for plants in smaller pots.
  • Examine the sides of leaves every week for worms if you see Moths hovering in your garden patch.
  • Cover the Broccoli patch with nets.
  • Applying Bt insecticide at the time of infestation daily in the early morning or late evening is an excellent repellant for these worms.

3. Diamondback Moth Caterpillars

Light green with little black hairs and pointy tips, Diamondback Larvae will eat the whole Broccoli leaves.

They are the caterpillars of Diamondback Moths. These moths lay their eggs on the underside of the Broccoli leaves.

Diamondback caterpillars flee from the leaves on a long, thin silk line when disturbed.

Signs of Diamondback Moth Caterpillars Attacks

  • Big and ragged holes on the leaves.
  • Partial or completely eaten leaf lamina except for the mid-rib.
Image represents parasitic wasp following a pest
Parasitic wasps help to eradicate pests like beetles and worms without harming the Broccoli leaves.

Treatment for Diamondback Moths

  • Remove the worms manually or use a strong water spray to cast them away from the leaves.
  • Give weekly checks on the underside of the Broccoli leaves for the worms.
  • You can control diamondback moths with neem seed extracts.
  • Consider using commercially available parasitic wasps for controlling the larvae and adult moths.

4. Cabbage Loopers

Cabbage Loopers, or Inch Worms, are easily identified by their distinctive movement, which involves “looping” as they move along.

They are present on the surface of the leaves, hide between leaf corners or on the flower heads, and are the larvae of Cabbage Butterflies.

Signs of Cabbage Loopers Attacks

  • Irregular margins and perforations on the bottom and upper leaves.
  • Holes on the flower heads of the plant.
  • Presence of black and sticky droppings on the flower heads and foliage.

Treatment for Cabbage Loopers

  • Manually remove the larvae from the flower heads and leaves as soon as they are visible.
  • Use strong gusts of soapy water to remove the worms from the leaves. 
  • Employ Bt insecticides with spinosad concentrate every 1-2 weeks following outbreaks.
  • Use row covers to prevent the Cabbage Butterflies from laying their eggs on the plants right after the plantation in spring. 
Image represents way to protect Broccoli plants with row covers
Translucent row covers guard the Broccoli leaves from butterflies and moths, preventing them from laying eggs on the leaves.

5. Flea Beetles

Flea Beetles are tiny, shiny black beetles with long back legs that allow them to leap like fleas when attacked.

Therefore, it’s simpler to spot Flea Beetles by looking for damage indicators rather than bugs.

Signs of Flea Beetles Attacks

  • Leaves with ‘shotholes.’
  • Serrations along the leaf margins of young leaves.
  • Occurrence of bacterial wilt and blight right after beetle outbreaks.
Image represents Broccoli leaves with holes
Small, irregular holes in Broccoli leaves may be due to the outbreak of Flea Beetles.

Treatment for Flea Beetles

  • Promote early season dusting of simple unscented talcum powder in the plants.
  • Use nets to prevent the beetles from getting in the Broccoli patch.
  • Hang sticky traps around the plants to capture the beetles.

6. Cabbage Root Maggots

Cole crops like Broccoli are affected by Cabbage Root Maggots.

However, these Maggots don’t directly affect the leaves but render the roots useless.

This affects the leaves when they don’t have a proper root system.

Signs of Cabbage Root Maggots Attacks

  • Holes around the main stem and roots.
  • Wilting and yellowing of leaves.
  • Presence of bluish-cast on the surface of the entire foliage.
  • Flies hovering over the soil, lured in by the rotting smell.

Treatment for Cabbage Root Maggots

  • Sway sticky traps to capture Cabbage Flies (adult form of these Maggots).
  • Place row covers over the plants in spring.
  • Keep the soil dry as possible and create a furrow to drain the water from the soil.
  • Dig up your plants and rinse their roots in cold water to eliminate the Maggots before replanting.

8. Cabbage Webworms

Cabbage Webworms are a frequent pest of Broccoli in the late summer and fall.

These worms are tanned or green and have brown longitudinal stripes that run the length of their bodies.

The older larvae hide and eat the leaf surface, whereas the young larvae feed on leaf margins.

Signs of Cabbage Webworms Attacks

  • Holes in the main stem and stalk of the young plants.
  • Wilting leaves and attacks on buds.
  • Presence of webbing in the leaves and flower heads.
Image represents cabbage webworms in Broccoli leaves
Cabbage Webworms hide inside the webbing under the surface of the leaves.

Treatment for Cabbage Webworms

  • Use water to cast away the worms and their webbings.
  • Several organically approved sprays, such as neem oil, Bt, and soapy water, can combat Cabbage Worms.
  • Ensure to treat the undersides of your leaves where eggs and worms hide.

9. Cutworms

Cutworms can be problematic for young Broccoli seedlings and are smooth with thin hairs. When disturbed, they curl into a tight ‘C’ shape.

Additionally, these worms acquire their name because they eat the stems of young Broccoli, which causes them to fall.

They ascend on leaves, buds, and shoots to feed and descend to attack the roots.

Signs of Cutworms Attacks

  • Bits or remains of plant parts falling on the soil.
  • Cut marks around the stem.
  • Shrieveling and yellowing of leaves.

Treatment for Cutworms

  • Pick off the cutworms or cast them using strong sprays of soapy water.
  • Apply Bt insecticides in the late evening to deter them. 
  • Circle the base of the Broccoli stems with an aluminum ring or cover them with a thin cloth to prevent the Cutworms from biting into the tender stems of seedlings.
  • Promote weed control and keep gaps between the plant.
Image represents the use of aluminum rings
Aluminum rings help to deter the worms to some extent and prevent them from attacking the tender Broccoli leaves.

10. Other Furry Animals

The damage is more widespread if rabbits, gophers, or even deer may be gnawing on the Broccoli foliage and heads.

Similarly, delicate Broccoli sprouts are a favorite of birds, snails and slugs.

However, the attacks from large critters are easily noticeable and more prominent right after the plantation.

Treatment for Furry Animals Attacks

  • Consider circling the vegetable patches with tall wooden fences.
  • Use light and sound probes to scare hoofed intruders.
  • Stake scarecrows around the Broccoli patch to scare the birds.
  • A fence with short chicken wire mesh installed appropriately can repel burrowing and jumping animals.
Image illustrates some ways to protect Broccoli leaves
There are many ways to protect the Broccoli leaves by scaring away the flying, hoofed and burrowing intruders and keeping the worm and pest infestation at bay.

Ways to Prevent Pests on Broccoli Leaves

The prime way to prevent pests is to have a healthy garden and be watchful about pests and critters.

  • Grow Zinnias, Fennel, Dill, Yarrows and aromatic herbs to attract beneficial parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings to kill the worms.
  • Encourage planting companion plants of Broccoli like Rosemary and sweet-scented Lavender, which are pest deterrents.
  • Use mulches like grass clippings, straws, leaves, or barks and scatter them on the soil to avoid weed growth.
  • Install physical barriers like cages or bird feeders to deter and confuse the avian pests.
  • Remove and burn dead or decaying leaves after harvest from the soil to prevent disease outbreaks.

FAQs About Pests on Broccoli Leaves

What to Spray on Broccoli Leaves?

Insecticides or pesticides are very effective, but they may damage the soil and other neighboring crops.

Instead, revert to organic means like horticultural neem oil. 

How do you Protect Broccoli Leaves from Pests?

To protect the Broccoli leaves, cover the plants with base-cut water jugs or row covers.

If you don’t have any row covers, use a translucent cloth to shade your plants.

From Editorial Team

Change the Watering Schedules During Outbreaks!
Pests on Broccoli leaves can be controlled by changing watering bouts, as you may sometimes need to wipe the pests using strong water sprays. But watering immediately after removing the pests this way may bring forth overwatering issues!

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