Woad Has Enemies

Every year I have problems with cabbage white caterpillars eating holes in my woad. Some years are worse than others. The caterpillars are hard to spot and pick off because they are the exact same color as the leaves, or more precisely, the veins. The butterflies are very pretty, of course, because they are butterflies. I have not been able to get a good photo of a cabbage white butterfly (same problem as my earlier bee post), but click on the link above to see some great ones (12/22/2023 Edited to add, the original link stopped working. The new link to UMass Extension is informative but doesn’t have a lot of images.). And the butterflies don’t do any harm, per se. It’s the caterpillars, or cabbage worms, that are the problem.

Here’s a photo of a particularly small and innocuous-looking one sitting on my woad:

tiny cabbage white caterpillarThe caterpillars get much fatter and bigger than this, but even then they are hard to detect because they just look like a big vein instead of a little one.

Here is a photo of the pupa, which I’ve never noticed before and was psyched to actually find, photograph, identify, and subsequently squish:

cabbage worm pupa

Alas, cabbage whites are not the only pest hanging out in the woad beds:


What is this guy doing? Some kind of suspicious grasshopper. Is he just resting his little legs en route to somewhere else, or is he planning to eat my woad?

bean beetle

And this is a bean beetle. Bean beetles have wreaked total devastation on our beans more than once at the garden. We grow black beans for drying, or we try to, then we cook and eat them. Mmm black beans…. But do they really like to eat woad? I’m not sure.

Also observed this summer, but not pictured, have been three striped (or three lined) potato beetles, which usually attack our tomatillos, and have the most disgusting larvae ever. They pile their poop up on their backs to ward off predators. And if that’s not bad enough, it’s *poisonous* poop because of the toxic alkaloids in the solanaceous plants they eat. Ew! And slugs. I’ve picked slugs off the woad. Regular old tan-colored small slugs. I don’t know what kind they are exactly.

Many things like to eat woad. I crush them. Or, I fling them into the wild roses and brambles if they are too gross to deal with. Let them eat blackberries.



One thought on “Woad Has Enemies

  1. I am enjoying your blog so much. It is funny and informative. The photos of the droplets on the woad leaves was such a treat to see…. though why just around the edges???? So interesting. I am still laughing from reading the crop circle entry.

Comments are closed.