The University of Arizona
      Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Home Horticulture:
      Environmentally Responsible
      Gardening & Landscaping in the Low Desert


      Cabbage Looper in the Low Desert

      Vine Rule

Description:

The larvae are pale green caterpillars up to one and one half inches long with several white stripes down their backs. Unlike army worms, they have two pairs of abdominal prolegs. As they crawl, they arch their backs making a "looping" movement for which they are named.

The adults are brown and gray moths with a wingspan of one and a half inches. They have silver spots on their upper wings, towards the center of the wing.

Eggs are laid individually on the undersides of older leaves, they are dome-shaped with ridges.

Damage:

They eat irregular holes in leaves, most often older leaves on beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, and turnips. They also bore holes in lettuce and cabbage heads.

Monitoring:

Look on the underside of leaves for loopers themselves and for their fecal matter, small black pellets.

Management:

Remove by hand. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic pesticide which disrupts their gut and causes them to starve to death. Watch for signs that natural predators are managing the population. Trichogramma, Hyposoter, Copidosoma, and birds all prey upon loopers.

When parasitized by the wasp Copidosoma truncatellum, loopers curl into an "S" shape after spinning a cocoon and fail to pupate. Numerous beneficial small wasps will emerge from each parasitized looper.

  Image of cabbage looper caterpillar
Photograph from "Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower's Guide to Using Less Pesticide" by Mary Louise Flint, University of California Publication 3332

Image of cabbage looper moth

Drawing from "Pests of the West" by Whitney Cranshaw.

Image of cabbage looper eggs

Photograph from "Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower's Guide to Using Less Pesticide" by Mary Louise Flint, University of California Publication 3332
Image of paracitized cabbage looper
Photograph from "Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower's Guide to Using Less Pesticide" by Mary Louise Flint, University of California Publication 3332


To Gardening and Landscaping in Maricopa County, AZ

Cabbage Looper
University of Arizona Logo visitors since June 8, 1998
Last Updated June 6, 2005
© 1998 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, in Maricopa County.
Comments to BradleyL@ag.arizona.edu 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040, (602) 470-8086 ext. 323

http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/t-tips/bugs/looper.htm