Know more about Cabbage Loopers

Its Scientific name is Trichoplusia ni and in the family of Noctuidae

The front wings have two silvery spots, one small and round, the other is U-shaped near the middle part. The hind wings are pale brown. Cabbage looper moths are strong fliers and primarily nocturnal. During the day, they rest among foliage or in crop debris. Young caterpillars are white and almost clear with a black head.Older caterpillars are green with a thin white line on each side and two other white lines on the dorsum.
They have three pairs of legs near the head and three sets of prolegs. They travel in a ‘looping’ manner, arching the middle portion of the body as they move forward. Fully-grown caterpillars reach 3cm to 4cm in length.

Crops affected include cabbage, brassicas, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cotton and beans. The caterpillar has been recorded on more than 150 species of plants.

Young caterpillars chew away at the leaves while larger ones feed on the tissue between the veins. A reduced ability to photosynthesise leads to defoliation, stunted growth and no head production. The caterpillar may bore into the heads of cabbages and other vegetables and contaminate them with frass (faeces), which can stain some plants.

The female lays a single egg, usually on the underside of a host leaf. It is about the size of a pinhead, rounded with a dome-shape, with ridges and is pearly-white in colour. It gradually darkens with age. Development from egg to adult takes about four to six weeks. Caterpillars hatch 2 to 6 days after the eggs are laid and go through five instars during development. Pupation occurs in a loose cocoon of silk attached to the underside of leaves, in a folded leaf or between two leaves. The pupa starts off green and turns dark brown. The moth emerges 10 to 16 days after pupation.

Control measures
Possibly the most effective chemicals are neem-based pesticides, which interfere with the growth of young caterpillars. Good control has been obtained with a 2% ethanolic extract of neem seeds

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