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What Is Eating My Brussels Sprout Leaves? Identifying and Managing Common Pests 2024

Brussels sprouts are a nutritious and rewarding vegetable to grow, but they can be susceptible to various pests that damage their leaves. If you’re wondering what’s eating your Brussels sprout leaves, this guide will help you identify common pests and provide tips on how to manage them effectively. Keep reading to protect your Brussels sprouts and ensure a healthy harvest.

Key Highlights

  • Common pests include cabbage worms, aphids, slugs, and flea beetles.
  • Signs of pest damage include chewed leaves, holes, and discolored foliage.
  • Regular inspection and proper care can prevent infestations.
  • Natural and chemical treatments are available for pest control.

Last update on 2024-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Identifying Common Pests Eating Brussels Sprout Leaves

Cabbage Worms

Cabbage worms are green caterpillars that blend in with the leaves of Brussels sprouts. They chew large, irregular holes in the foliage and can quickly defoliate plants if not controlled.


Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves and stems. They suck the sap from the plant, causing leaves to curl, yellow, and wilt. Aphids also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can attract ants and lead to the growth of sooty mold.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are common pests that feed on the foliage of Brussels sprouts, leaving irregular holes and a slimy trail. They are most active at night and during damp conditions.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are small, black or brown beetles that jump when disturbed. They create numerous small holes or “shot holes” in the leaves, which can weaken the plants and reduce yield.

Harlequin Bugs

Harlequin bugs are brightly colored insects that suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to wilt, yellow, and eventually die. They can cause significant damage if left unchecked.

Cabbage Loopers

Cabbage loopers are pale green caterpillars that move in a looping motion. They chew large holes in the leaves and can cause extensive damage if not controlled.

Signs of Pest Damage

Chewed Leaves

Large, irregular holes in the leaves are a clear sign of cabbage worms, slugs, snails, or cabbage loopers. This type of damage is usually easy to spot and often occurs quickly.

Small Holes

Numerous small holes, or “shot holes,” in the leaves indicate flea beetle damage. These pests can cause significant damage, especially to young plants.

Discolored and Curled Leaves

Yellowing, curling, or wilting leaves can indicate an aphid infestation. Aphids suck the juices from the leaves, causing them to lose their color and vitality.

Slimy Trails

A slimy trail on the soil or plants is a telltale sign of slugs and snails. This trail can often lead you to the hiding place of these pests.

Preventing and Managing Pest Infestations

Regular Inspection

Regularly inspect your Brussels sprout plants for signs of pests. Check the undersides of leaves, stems, and the soil around the plants. Early detection is key to managing infestations before they become severe.

Proper Watering and Fertilization

Healthy plants are more resistant to pests. Ensure your Brussels sprouts receive adequate water and nutrients. Avoid overhead watering, which can create a favorable environment for pests and diseases.

Natural Predators

Encourage natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and birds in your garden. These beneficial insects can help control pest populations.

Neem Oil and Insecticidal Soap

Neem oil and insecticidal soap are effective, organic treatments for many common pests. Apply these treatments according to the label instructions, ensuring thorough coverage of the affected plants.

Barriers and Traps

  • For Slugs and Snails: Use copper tape around the base of the plants, apply diatomaceous earth to the soil, and set up beer traps to attract and drown these pests.
  • For Cabbage Worms and Loopers: Use row covers to protect the plants and hand-pick the caterpillars off the plants.

Chemical Treatments

For severe infestations, chemical insecticides may be necessary. Choose a product labeled for use on Brussels sprouts and follow the instructions carefully. Use chemical treatments as a last resort to minimize harm to beneficial insects and the environment.

Common Pests and Signs of Damage on Brussels Sprout Leaves

PestSigns of DamageControl Methods
Cabbage WormsLarge, irregular holes in leavesHand-picking, neem oil, row covers
AphidsYellowing, curling leaves, honeydewNeem oil, insecticidal soap, natural predators
Slugs and SnailsIrregular holes, slime trailsHand-picking, copper tape, diatomaceous earth, beer traps
Flea BeetlesSmall “shot holes” in leavesRow covers, neem oil, diatomaceous earth
Harlequin BugsYellowing, wilting leavesHand-picking, neem oil
Cabbage LoopersLarge holes in leavesHand-picking, neem oil, row covers

Pest Control Products For Your Garden

BioAdvanced Organics Brand Tomato, Vegetable & Fruit For Insects, Ready-to-Use, 24 oz
  • KILLS LISTED INSECTS FAST: Kills on contact to protect your edibles against Aphids, Caterpillars, Mealybugs, Spider Mites and other listed pests
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  • USE ON: Use to protect edibles such as vegetables, fruit and nut trees, citrus, berries, herbs and outdoor container-grown plants
  • OMRI-LISTED: Formula may be used for organic gardening
Sevin 100530128 GardenTech Insect Killer Lawn Granules, 10 Pound, White
  • Kills over 100 listed insects
  • Kills above and below the surface insects
  • Use on lawns, fruit & vegetable gardens, ornamental plants & shrubs, flowers and home perimeter
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Garden Safe Insect Killer, Diatomaceous Earth, 1 Pack
  • PEST-KILLING DUST: Use indoors or outdoors to control listed crawling insects on contact
  • CONTAINS DIATOMACEOUS EARTH: Insects encounter or ingest this powder and die within 24 hours – insects don’t become immune to its killing action
  • CONTROLS: Kills cockroaches, ants, silverfish, beetles, fleas, bed bugs and other crawling insects as listed
  • NO ODOR, NON-STAINING: Use a hand duster, power duster or squeeze bottle to dust areas where crawling insects are found
BioAdvanced Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray, Insecticide, 32-Ounce, Concentrate 701521A
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BioAdvanced Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray, Insecticide, 32-Ounce, Concentrate 701521A
  • INSECT KILLER: Kills over 70 listed insects including Aphids, Caterpillars, Thrips, Tomato Hornworm, and Whiteflies
  • PROTECT FRUIT & VEGETABLES: Protect fruits and vegetables from insect damage, for outdoor use
  • EASY APPLICATION: Spray onto plant until leaves are evenly coated, but not dripping
  • RAINPROOF PROTECTION: Rainproof in just 1 hour
Bonide Eight Insect Control Garden Dust, 3 lb. Insect & Mite Killer for Outdoor Garden,...
  • INSECT KILLER & REPELLENT - This pest control is great for use on species of ant, aphid, fly, caterpillar, beetle, leafminer, tick, millipede, cricket, worm, & many more species of bug.
  • PROTECTS VEGETABLES, ROSES & FLOWERS - Garden Dust protects a variety of vegetables including asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, eggplant plus more. Can also be used to protect flowers such as roses, petunias, poinsettias, azaleas & more.
  • DUAL ACTION CONTROL - Contact kill gives you immediate results when dusting insects directly, while residual activity kills insects when they return to treated areas. One application can last up to 4 weeks.
  • TREATMENT FOR LOCALIZED INFESTATIONS - Our insect dust can be used to control infestations of ants, crickets, earwigs, fleas, spider mites, & lone star ticks in areas where there are weeds or bushy non-crop vegetation. Not for indoor broadcast use.

Last update on 2024-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Protecting your Brussels sprout plants from pests involves regular inspection, proper care, and timely intervention. By understanding the common pests that can affect your Brussels sprouts and knowing how to manage them, you can keep your garden vibrant and healthy. Whether you prefer organic methods or need to resort to chemical treatments, these tips will help you maintain the health and productivity of your Brussels sprouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I naturally deter pests from my Brussels sprouts?

You can naturally deter pests by encouraging beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, using companion planting with herbs like basil and mint, and maintaining healthy plants through proper watering and fertilization.

Are there any home remedies for treating pests on Brussels sprouts?

Yes, you can use a mixture of water and dish soap (a few drops of soap per gallon of water) to spray on the affected plants. This can help control soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites.

How do I prevent slugs and snails from eating my Brussels sprouts?

To prevent slugs and snails, you can use barriers like copper tape around the base of the plants, apply diatomaceous earth to the soil, and hand-pick them during the evening. Beer traps are also effective for attracting and drowning these pests.

What should I do if chemical treatments are not effective?

If chemical treatments are not effective, consider integrating multiple pest management strategies such as improving plant health, using beneficial insects, and employing physical barriers. Rotate the use of different chemical treatments to prevent pest resistance.

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