Agroecosystem Approach to Managing Imported Cabbage Worm (Peris rapae)

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $6,356.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Helen Atthowe
Biodesign Farm


  • Vegetables: broccoli, brussel sprouts


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: biological control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulches - living
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal summary:

    Imported cabbage worm, a pest of broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and related plants in the mustard family, is said to be the most destructive of the cabbage worms found in the Intermountain West and the High Plains. Most producers use insecticides to combat cabbage worms, and even certified organic producers use repeated applications of Bt – bacillus thuringiensis. Many natural predators and parasites reduce cabbage worm infestations, including ground beetles, paper wasps, spiders and parasitic wasps. Biodesign Farm believes that its system of living mulches, reduced tillage and habitat management may be managing cabbage worm without Bt or insecticides. After using living mulch for 12 years and minimum tillage for 11, the farm stopped treating for cabbage worms in 2000 and has seen no economic injury for five years. This grant will assess whether cabbage worm can be managed without pesticides by fostering predator and parasite habitat. It will also try to determine what predators and parasites are most effective and seasonal changes in their complexes.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.