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What Is Eating My Broccoli Leaves? A Complete Guide for 2024

Broccoli is a nutritious and popular vegetable, but it can be prone to pests that enjoy munching on its leaves. Identifying what’s eating your broccoli leaves and knowing how to manage these pests is crucial for a healthy garden. This guide will help you determine the common culprits and provide effective solutions to protect your broccoli plants.

Key Highlights

  • Common Pests: Identify the primary pests that feed on broccoli leaves.
  • Signs of Infestation: Learn to recognize the signs of pest damage.
  • Control Methods: Discover effective ways to manage and prevent pest infestations.
  • Natural Remedies: Explore eco-friendly solutions for protecting your plants.

Last update on 2024-07-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Common Pests Eating Broccoli Leaves

Cabbage Worms

Cabbage worms are the larvae of several species of butterflies and moths, including the cabbage white butterfly and the diamondback moth. They are green and can blend in with the leaves, making them hard to spot.


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, black, or gray. They feed on the sap of the plant, causing the leaves to curl and yellow.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are tiny, black or brown beetles that hop like fleas. They chew small holes in the leaves, giving them a “shot-hole” appearance.


Cutworms are the larvae of certain moths. They are usually brown or gray and can be found at the base of the plant, where they chew through the stems and leaves.

Cabbage Loopers

Cabbage loopers are green caterpillars that move in a looping motion. They feed on the undersides of the leaves, creating ragged holes.

Signs of Infestation

Chewed Leaves

Look for irregular holes and ragged edges on the leaves. This type of damage is often caused by caterpillars like cabbage worms and cabbage loopers.

Yellowing and Curling

If the leaves are yellowing, curling, or wilting, it might be due to aphid infestation. Aphids can also leave a sticky residue known as honeydew.

Small Holes

Tiny, round holes scattered across the leaves are a sign of flea beetle damage. These beetles can cause significant damage, especially to young plants.

Cut Stems

Cutworms chew through the stems at the base of the plant, causing the plant to collapse. Look for severed stems and check the soil around the base for cutworms.

Control Methods


For larger pests like cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, and cutworms, handpicking is an effective control method. Inspect your plants regularly and remove any pests you find.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is effective against soft-bodied insects like aphids. Spray the soap directly on the affected areas, making sure to cover the undersides of the leaves.

Row Covers

Using row covers can protect your broccoli plants from a variety of pests. These covers create a physical barrier that prevents pests from reaching the plants while allowing sunlight and water to pass through.

Diatomaceous Earth

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants to deter crawling insects like cutworms and flea beetles. This natural powder dehydrates and kills insects on contact.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that works against a wide range of pests, including aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. Mix according to the instructions and spray on affected plants.

Natural Remedies

Companion Planting

Planting herbs and flowers like marigolds, dill, and nasturtiums can help repel pests. These plants can attract beneficial insects that prey on common broccoli pests.

Beneficial Insects

Introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps can help control pest populations. These insects feed on aphids, caterpillars, and other pests.

Homemade Sprays

  • Garlic Spray: Blend garlic cloves with water and a small amount of dish soap. Spray this mixture on your plants to repel pests.
  • Pepper Spray: Mix hot pepper flakes with water and a few drops of dish soap. Spray this solution on the leaves to deter pests.

Fascinating Facts About Broccoli

OriginBroccoli originated in the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated for thousands of years.
Nutritional ValueBroccoli is rich in vitamins C and K, fiber, and antioxidants.
VarietiesThere are several varieties of broccoli, including Calabrese, sprouting broccoli, and broccoli rabe.
FamilyBroccoli belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.
Health BenefitsConsuming broccoli is associated with numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved digestion.

Top-Selling Broccoli Pest Control Products

Bonide Eight Insect Control Vegetable, Fruit & Flower, 32 oz Concentrate Long Lasting...
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BioAdvanced Organics Brand Tomato, Vegetable & Fruit For Insects, Ready-to-Use, 24 oz
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Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 Oz For Insects
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The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook: Identify and Solve Common Pest Problems on Edible...
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Monterey LG6328 B.t. Concentrate For Insects, 8oz.
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Last update on 2024-07-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent pests from attacking my broccoli plants?

Preventing pests involves regular inspection, proper plant spacing, and maintaining healthy soil. Using row covers, companion planting, and introducing beneficial insects are also effective preventive measures.

What are the signs of a healthy broccoli plant?

A healthy broccoli plant has firm, dark green leaves with no signs of yellowing or wilting. The stem should be strong and upright, and there should be no visible holes or pest damage on the leaves.

Can I use chemical pesticides on my broccoli plants?

While chemical pesticides can be effective, they may also harm beneficial insects and affect the overall health of your garden. Consider using organic and natural methods first before resorting to chemical treatments.

How often should I inspect my broccoli plants for pests?

Inspect your broccoli plants at least once a week, paying close attention to the undersides of the leaves and the base of the plants. Regular inspections help catch pest problems early before they become severe.

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