What Is Lurking On My Kale?

Kale on 7-10-2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden is doing GREAT and I must say the tomatoes are the best I have ever grown. I think I say that every time I write or talk about them. I harvested my first ripe tomato on July 13, which was a Rutgers. It was very good. 🙂 I still like the new way I am pruning and hanging them up and I also think the mulch has made a big difference. BUT, this post is about the kale so I better stop rambling. I started this post on July 7 and have updated the draft 18 times…

Once you start seeing the Small Cabbage White Butterflies flying around your kale, you know you will start seeing their larvae soon. This year I noticed three newcomers to the table… I a sure they have been here in the past but I didn’t see any. Depending on what time of the day it is, you may or may not see them, but you will see where they have been…

I did learn a new word while I was writing this post… Crucifers… In botany, it refers to plants whose flowers have four petals. I would have thought the information would say the worms in this post prefer members of the Brassicaceae Family, instead, they say they prefer crucifers. Hmmm… Well, that may be true because brassicas are apparently crucifers. I just never saw that word used before but I don’t get out much… 🙂


Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly)

Interestingly enough, most of the butterflies in the garden are Pieris rapae also known as the Cabbage White. It is called other names such as Small Cabbage White, Cabbage Butterfly, or White Butterfly. It is a member of the white and yellows family Pieridae which consists of about 76 genera and 1,100 species mainly from tropical Africa and Asia. This species is found all across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It was “accidentally” introduced into Quebec, Canada in the 1860’s and has now spread across North America… 


Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Most of the worms I find are just sitting there doing nothing but I found this one munching away…


Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth) larvae.

Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth)

I have seen this worm for many years and I always thought it was the larvae of the Cabbage White Butterfly. BUT, I have learned the error of my thinking. Do you see the way it arches its back? That means it is a lopper similar to inchworms (which are in a different family). Thanks to INaturalist, I found out these critters are the larvae of Trichoplusia ni, commonly known as the Cabbage Looper Moth. I have not seen any of the adults in the garden, but I have seen similar looking moths elsewhere. These caterpillars are called loopers because they don’t have the same amount of legs (or prolegs) as most other caterpillars. They only have 2-3 pairs on the hind end instead of the normal 5 pairs. When they crawl, they clasp with their front legs then draw up the hind end then clasp with the hind legs (prolegs). Then they reach out and grab with their front legs again. This gait is called looping because it arches it back into a loop when crawling.

I thought it was funny how they could be lying flat on the underside of a leaf until I started looking at it and taking photos. Then they would arch their back like they were trying to scare me off.

One very interesting thing about the adult is that they are migratory and are found across North America and Eurasia. According to information, over 160 plants can serve as hosts for this species but “crucifers” are preferred


Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth).

Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth)

This is the first year I have seen this critter but it doesn’t mean they haven’t always been around. Certain times of the day you may see no worms of any kind anywhere. This colorful member of the family Crambidae inhabits most of the eastern portion of the United States and can be found on all types of brassicas. The adult is a brownish moth and I have not seen any of them in the garden… I kind of think they do most of the damage to the kale which leads me to believe they have been here before and I just didn’t notice them. I always wondered how could so few very small cabbage worms do so much damage now I know… 


Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter).

Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter)

This strange little critter is a member of the leafhopper family Cicadellidae with 26 species in the genus and is a North American native. I have seen a few of these on the kale although it is not necessarily on their menu. Although kale is not on the list, turnips, another member of the Brassicaceae family, is. I did see more on the okra today but I can’t tell what they are doing. They are odd critters for sure… They normally produce two generations per year and adults overwinter in grass and other dead plant material. 

In numbers, leafhoppers can cause serious damage in a variety of ways. Several species of this genus are believed to be vectors of a few plant diseases. C. costalis is thought to be a vector of Pierce’s Disease Virus of grapes (in Georgia).


Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid).

Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid)

I always thought this critter was some kind of grasshopper, but when I uploaded the image on iNaturalist it said it was a Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus strictus). Information says this species normally feeds on grass but here it is on the kale… I couldn’t get a good photo because this guy, or gal, was a bit photo shy and was about ready to jump. I wonder if it made that hole?

I see a lot of BIG katydids here that I haven’t photographed to get a positive ID. I thought a katydid was a katydid but apparently not… There are several species found worldwide that look a lot alike. 


Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly).

When I work in the garden in the early evening the butterflies and worms seem to be hiding. I was working in the watermelons when I spotted this Cabbage White Butterfly flying around the kale. SO, I ran to where it was to get a photo. It landed under a kale leaf then flew around a bit more but went back to the same spot. It did this several times before it finally decided to stay put. I guess this is where it will spend the night…


Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle) larvae.

Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle)

I have been noticing these strange varmints on the Asparagus. One day I stopped briefly to look at one and it appeared almost slug-like. I was busy so I went on about my business and it was happy about that. I couldn’t see where it was doing any damage. Then later when I had the camera and magnifying glass I had a closer look. I touched it and then it did something strange… It pooped. I took the best photo I could, but these guys are VERY SMALL. I uploaded the photo on iNaturalist and it suggested Crioceris duodecimpunctata commonly known as the Spotted Asparagus Beetle. I have no idea how to pronounce the scientific name because Dave’s Garden didn’t have a pronunciation for it. Maybe cry-OH-ser-is DOO-dec-im punct-ata. 🙂 I think I will call it Cryogenus dudepooper. I didn’t see any adults on the Asparagus, but Sunday afternoon I was walking in the yard and this small reddish-orange beetle with black spots landed on my hand. It said, “Are you looking for me?” I told him I wasn’t at the moment because I didn’t have the camera. I asked him if he was lost then he flew off. It was a male because the females are a different color.

According to what I read, the larvae of the Spotted Asparagus Beetle only feeds on the berries. Well, they are going to get hungry because there are no berries on the asparagus at the moment… A few plants are just now beginning to flower… Apparently, most are males that were too small to harvest. I have been getting a few nice spears all summer…


Jade wanted outside but I was a little reluctant to just let her out of the house when I was going to be in the garden. Jade is my son’s cat and he left her behind (and his tomcat) when he and Chris moved out. Jade has no claws so she stays in the house. So, since she wanted out, I carried her all the way to the garden (second time). She had loads of fun exploring and never ventured out of the garden. She seemed to like chasing the Cabbage White Butterflies so they couldn’t land…

I have some catching up to do. I seem to take photos every day but do nothing with them. I have to post about the watermelons and how and why I prune them. Then, today, which is not today by the time I get this post published, I found the tomatoes are under attack by THREE preditors… I noticed a few plants with whiteflies a couple of days ago which need to be sprayed with the neem oil. I hadn’t noticed any hornworms or any damage from them and I check pretty much every day.  I did notice a few tomatoes with small holes but I couldn’t find the culprit. THEN, this afternoon (Tuesday) I found a worm I had not seen before. Next thing I knew, I found several. Some were quite large and they were boring holes in the tomatoes and climbing inside… GEEZ! I did have my camera so I have photos. Then, a few hours later, I went back and found a few more as well as SEVERAL hornworms. That time I didn’t have the camera… What I want to know is how can there be no hornworms then they just suddenly appear? SO, I will be posting about the tomatoes as well.

SO, until next time, be safe and well, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!


25 comments on “What Is Lurking On My Kale?

  1. Every thing is looking great Mr R, and sorry your kale has lots of tiny visitors. Thankfully this year so far the cabbage white butterflies have not been in abundance of laying eggs. Plus we covered most of our brassica family for as long as possible with a fine net. Not only stopping the pigeons as we have loads of wood pigeons from ripping new plants to shreds but it prevents lots of moth laying eggs too. As we don’t use any pesticides etc.
    Jade looks very much at home and I’m sure is very good company .
    Loved your update and like you I too take lots of photos of how the plot is growing and by the time I get to post which isn’t often these days on my garden blog, they are well out of date.
    Take care Mr R.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keld Herbst says:

    Quite a zoo you have to deal with in your garden it seems…

    About plants: I don’t know if Asparagus and Cabbage have “friend plants”, but other veggies do have such protectors, an example is Carrots protected by Onions if I am not mistaken. Try to see if Google can help you.

    Love the cute cat 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Keld! A zoo of worms! LOL! I have two older books about companion planting. One is Carrots Love Tomatoes and the other is Roses Love Garlic. They are great books but I have had issues following those practices because it seems I need more space. You can put companion plants between rows and tomatoes plants. I hope all is well with you! Thanks for the comment!


  3. rmkinder says:

    Enjoyed this post very much, both text and photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim R says:

    You’ve ID’d a lot of critters in your patch. Makes me want to do a better job washing my vegetables in the future. 🙂

    We had our first taste of tomato yesterday. 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jim! I have ID’d a few but there are always more you don’t see. Some are too small to take a photo of and get away really quickly. I always shake off the kale pretty good and wash it because you never know. One time I put some in the steamer and when I opened the lid there was a worm on top. LOL! Made me wonder how many I was eating and didn’t know it. The tomatoes are doing GREAT but now I have to look for worms at least once a day. Glad you had your first ripe tomato and I hope for many more. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dayphoto says:

    UGH!!!! I hate it when the bugs arrive. Squash beetles are heavy here…a cup of vinegar and a grab and a dunk in the cup…is helping, but, oh, my, do they multi-ply FAST!~

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Debbie says:

    A lovely post Thankyou! My question is – if you didn’t plant that Kale would all those critters be there anyway? Or have they somehow become aware ‘ there is masses of food in Lonnie’s garden, lets go!’
    The cat is beautiful she looks like my Hector who loves to stay with me in the garden while I’m working but why doesn’t she have any claws?
    Looking forward to the watermelons 🍉 (no pressure!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debbie! That is a good question… No matter whether you have a garden or not, there are always Cabbage White Butterflies and the moths flying about. If they don’t find kale in my garden they feed on native “crucifers” (GEEZ!) in the pasture. They aren’t really a problem even though it looks like they are since the leaves are riddled with holes. There are always plenty of new leaves and they don’t seem to bother them as much. I am looking forward to writing about the watermelons and the tomatoes. Take care and thanks for the comment!


  7. tonytomeo says:

    The common cabbage white butterfly was what we knew as cabbage loopers when I was a kid, because they flew in loops over the mustard in the orchards. I do not believe that there were any real cabbage loopers here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Littlesundog says:

    Wow, did all of this post seem VERY familiar to me! I battle the same pests here in Oklahoma. And those hornworms, I think they are camouflaged very well. I can pick them off and go back over the area and find a few I missed. They blend in so well on the plants, no wonder they are overlooked!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laura! The hornworms are definitely masters of disguise. You learn to keep an eye out for chewed leaves and poop. If you see that there is a hornworm somewhere. I didn’t find any yesterday but I found a few more of “the other one” I am trying to get a positive ID on. I also found some strange eggs around the stem on a tomato. Growing tomatoes is like guerilla warfare. The worms keep attacking and we keep picking them off. Take care and thanks for the comment!


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