Diamonds in your cabbage

Our vegetable losses from insect pests this year are on course to increase since we are now affected by an epidemic of diamondback moth. The source of the recent outbreak is thought to be Europe (moths are carried on the wind) but the pest is endemic to the UK and it may well be that the recent mild winters and the peculiar spring conditions of 2016 have contributed to this epidemic.   Epidemics have occurred here before, the most recent being 20 years ago. 

In common with our troublesome wireworm, it is the larvae that cause the damage.  They feed voraciously on the leaves of plants mostly of the cabbage family. The larvae mine the leaf and leave a papery epidermis intact giving the appearance of translucent windows in the leaf.    The moth is difficult to control but we will cover our crops and rely on naturally derived control methods.  If you come across the highly active caterpillars on cabbage or broccoli, they are easily dislodged by water and perhaps a quick dip in boiling water will help.

The madness of July is with us now.  Enough work for an army. We prioritise and breath deep in the early morning air knowing that we can’t do everything.

Thank you                Richard

Date Published: 
Tuesday, 12 July, 2016