Cabbage Maggot


Cabbage Maggot Location
The Cabbage Root-Maggot, introduced from Europe almost two centuries ago, is now a serious pest in Canada and northern United States, but does not do much damage south of Pennsylvania. It likes cool weather.

Vulnerable Plants
It is injurious to cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnips and other members of the cabbage and mustard family, and sometimes works on beets, celery and other vegetables. In the fall months of September and October, the larvae attack rutabagas, turnips and brussels sprouts.

Cabbage Maggot Appearance and Habits
The winter is spent as a pupa in an enclosing case (puparium), 1 to 5 ins. deep in the soil. About the time sweet cherries bloom, and young cabbage plants are set out, a small gray fly crawls out of the soil to lay white eggs at the base of the stem and on adjacent soil. These hatch in 3 to 7 days into small, white, legless maggots which enter the soil to feast on the roots, riddling them with brown tunnels. Seedlings wilt, turn yellow, and eventually die. After 3 weeks the maggot forms a puparium from its larval skin and produces another fly in 12 to 18 days. The number of generations is indefinite; ordinarily the first feeds on cabbage and its relatives, while late broods menace fall turnips and radishes.

How to Control Cabbage Maggots
Plant after June 1 to avoid major pest season.

Protect seedbeds with a cheesecloth or nylon cover to prevent egg-laying, and secure it to the ground on either side. Place a 3- to 4-in. square of tar paper around stem of each plant set out, at ground level.

It is sometimes possible to remove a seedling at first sign of wilting, wash off the maggots, and replant.

Dust red pepper, ginger, or wood ash around the stem.


  • Cabbage Roof Maggot (Life Cycle, page 52): A. adult fly; B. legless maggot (larva)) E. puparium in soil; C. maggots working an roots; D. fly laying eggs at base of stem


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