The Facts About Broccoli Worms

Broccoli worms are small insects that live inside the heads of broccoli plants. They feed on the plant’s sap and cause it to wilt and die.

The worms grow very slowly, but they can quickly destroy a large area of land if left unchecked. If you have ever seen one of these little critters crawling around in your kitchen or garden, then you probably know all too well what happens when they are allowed to run amok!

In fact, the only way to kill them is with chemicals. You could spray pesticides on the plants, but there are other ways to control their population.

One of those methods involves using nematodes (worms) that live in soil and eat the worms. Nematodes are microscopic creatures that can survive in almost any environment. When they come across a worm or caterpillar, they will latch onto it and begin eating it alive!

Nematodes are not native to North America, so they must have been brought here from somewhere else. There are two types of nematode that can be used to control the growth of worms: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which kills the worms within 24 hours; and Cry1Ab3, which takes up to six months before killing the worms completely.

Both of these products work very well at controlling the populations of these tiny pests. The worms will continue to eat the leaves of your plants and even each other after they have died, but they will no longer be able to reproduce.

What Do Broccoli Worms Look Like?

These little vegetables are dark green in color and have long dark hair growing from their backs. They average between one half to one inch in length, and can be found crawling around on the leaves of your plants. The worms’ bodies are soft and almost translucent looking. If you crush one between your fingers, it will leave a dark green stain on your skin that looks like paint. The crushed worm also emits a very strong smell that smells very similar to hot peppers or mustard.

These little insect pests move in herds around the plants and seem to prefer eating the tender leaves over any other part of it.

Sources & references used in this article:

Broccoli Production in Caifornia by ME Le Strange, M Cahn, S Koike, R Smith – 2010 – books.google.com

Economic threshold for management of lepidopterous larvae on broccoli in southeastern New Brunswick by PM Maltais, JR Nuckle… – Journal of economic …, 1994 – academic.oup.com

Broccoli: commercial vegetable production by WJ McLaurin, JM Barber, P Colditz, DM Granberry – 2010 – athenaeum.libs.uga.edu

Unlikely Guardians of Cropping Cystems: Can Birds and Spiders Protect Broccoli from Caterpillar Pests? by C Hooks, RR Pandey, MW Johnson – 2007 – 128.171.57.22

Persistence and performance of esfenvalerate residues on broccoli by GF Antonious – Pest Management Science: formerly Pesticide …, 2002 – Wiley Online Library

Cauliflower and Broccoli: Varieties and Culture by RC Thompson – 1965 – books.google.com

Insect Resistant Broccoli by LP Gianessi, CS Silvers, S Sankula, JE Carpenter – 2002 – Citeseer

Lepidopteran pest populations and crop yields in row intercropped broccoli by CRR Hooks, MW Johnson – Agricultural and forest entomology, 2002 – academia.edu

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