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Caterpillars, or the larval stage of Lepidoptera, are probably the most damaging of insect groups that feed on cole crops, such as collard, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. Caterpillars typically feed on foliage reducing marketability or outright killing plants. The most common and damaging caterpillars in Virginia cole crops are diamondback moth (DBM), cabbage looper (CL), and imported cabbageworm (ICW). In addition to these key species, there are several other species of caterpillars that will be observed feeding on cole crops that may or may not be a threat to yield of the crop. These species are summarized in Table 1. Normally pest management is meant to target all caterpillars, treating them as one pest “complex;” however, there are some noteworthy differences between the caterpillar species in their life histories and feeding behaviors where proper identification is sometimes necessary.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
March 2, 2012