A Rundown Of Broccoli Worms, Pests And Diseases

Can You Eat Broccoli That Has Cabbage Worms?

Cabbage worms are velvety green larvae that can happily eat away at the heads of broccoli undetected, but if left to their own devices, can devour your garden produce.

However, if you’re panicking because you’ve accidentally eaten a cabbage worm, you’ll be happy to know that there is no evidence to suggest that cabbage worms have a toxic effect on humans, pets, birds, bees, or other insects.

As they’re not actually harmful to humans, you can therefore eat broccoli that has cabbage worms.

That being said, having worms eat your fresh produce is far from ideal. Besides causing unsightly damage to a variety of fresh produce, cabbage worms can eventually kill the plants by chewing away their ability to photosynthesize.

Bearing this in mind, you will want to make sure that you’re taking the correct preventative measures to ensure that your broccoli plant isn’t suffering from these pests.

To prevent cabbage worms from eating your broccoli, you will want to ensure that you cover your plants with row covers in order to deter cabbage butterflies from laying their eggs on your broccoli.

You can also try companion planting to prevent cabbage worms from destroying your broccoli.

This involves planting a plant that is attractive to cabbage worms, such as mustard plants near your broccoli, so that the cabbage worms destroy that as an alternative. Once they infest the mustard plant, you can move the plant and destroy it.

How Do You Get Rid Of Pests On Broccoli?

Controlling and preventing broccoli pests such as worms is the better option as opposed to finding one on your fork at the dinner table. There are a variety of different ways to get rid of pests on broccoli.

These include but are not limited to:

Rotating Your Crop

Crop rotation is another effective way to keep broccoli pests at bay. Once you have harvested the plant, make sure that you remove any crop debris and that you pull up any weeds before planting again, also.

This will help to ensure that you have removed any places where the pests could have overwintered.

Adding Predatory Wasps

To keep pests at bay, you can also try encouraging some predatory wasps to enter your garden. These wasps lay their eggs on the larvae of butterflies so that when they hatch, the adult wasp burrows into the caterpillars, killing them.

To encourage these wasps to protect your broccoli plants, you will need to buy a few plants that they are attracted to, such as dill and fennel, and plant them next to the plants that are likely to be affected.

How Do I Get Rid Of Aphids On Broccoli?

There are a few different ways to get rid of aphids on broccoli, and you don’t have to spend a fortune, either!

A simple method to kill aphids with a home remedy is to use a simple soap spray. To kill the aphids, simply fill a spray bottle with tap water and add a few drops of dish soap and shake.

Spray the affected broccoli with the solution every three days for a minimum of two weeks. The soap will work to smother the aphids, killing them for good and preventing more from appearing in the future.

You can also buy neem oil or insecticidal soap to apply to your broccoli in accordance with the directions on the packaging.

How Do You Clean Broccoli Worms?

No one likes the thought of worms living on their broccoli, so it’s good to have a cleaning method in your back pocket for peace of mind before you prepare a meal with broccoli.

The easiest way to clean broccoli worms is as follows:

  • Fill a sink with hot water and add plenty of salt.
  • Place your broccoli florets in the sink of hot, salty water.
  • Allow the broccoli florets to sit in the water for a minimum of 20 minutes, moving the florets around the water every so often to dislodge any broccoli worms that may be hiding inside the veg.
  • After soaking the broccoli florets in the salty water, drain in a colander and rinse under fresh cold water.
  • Cook the raw broccoli as you normally would, or store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

The reason that you need to use hot or warm water is that the temperature causes the worms to relax. Whereas washing them under cold running water will make them hold onto the broccoli, when you pair hot water with salt, they let go and end up in the water.

How Do You Make Sure That There Are No Worms In Broccoli?

As I have mentioned above, the easiest way to ensure that there are no worms in your broccoli is to wash it in hot, salty water.

That being said, there are more steps that you can take before the picking process to ensure that your broccoli isn’t ruined by worms.

These methods include but are not limited to:

Use Row Covers

To prevent your broccoli from being affected by worms, you should always make sure that your broccoli is covered by row covers.

Row covers will ensure that your broccoli is protected from a variety of broccoli pests, helping to ensure that butterflies can’t lay their eggs that hatch into worms later down the road.

Water And Fertilize Your Plants On A Regular Basis

Plants are much more susceptible to disease and pests when they aren’t receiving the right amount of water and nutrients.

To avoid this from happening, make sure that your broccoli plants are as healthy as possible by ensuring that you have a good watering and fertilizing schedule that you stick to.

Hand Picking Worms

Another way is to hand pick any worms that you come across on your broccoli plants. As you pick each worm, make sure that you drop them in a bucket of soapy water immediately to ensure that they are killed straight away and can no longer harm your plants.

Photo by makamuki0 licensed under CC0.

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