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Bug of the Week: Cabbage Looper

It’s cabbage looper season here again. In some places cabbage loopers might be considered to be pests, but in our yard they are considered to be pets. They are hardy, will eat a wide range of foods, and they show up every year.

cabbage looper

The looper gets its name from the fact it “loops up” in the middle while walking. The caterpillar has two sets of appendages. Its six true legs are right behind the head. Towards the rear is another set of fleshy, wider appendages called “prolegs.” Scientists don't count the prolegs, so the caterpillar still has the six legs characteristic of insects.

cabbage looper

The caterpillar holds on with the true legs and brings its back end forward. The prolegs meet the true legs, and the back forms a loop. Then it releases the true legs. The head and front spring forward. The looper holds on with its true legs and the process repeats.

This one was nibbling my mint, but I'm not too concerned. The mint is prolific and the caterpillar has a lot of enemies. It is eaten by birds, wasps and parasitic flies. So, loop on little buddy.

Edit: The cabbage looper moth is featured in a later post.

6 thoughts on “Bug of the Week: Cabbage Looper

  1. jane powell

    I have a cabbage looper at the moment. it has begun pupating but as it is not outside I have put a bit of soil over him. I read that they pupate either in a cocoon or in the soil. can't wait for the moth to appear,:)

  2. Roberta

    Hi, Raising cabbage loopers is a fun project. Ours formed their cocoons in leaves. The moths have amazing scales if you look at them close up. Good luck!

  3. bob the dinosaur

    hi, i have a cabbage looper , little caterpillar has gotten sick because he/she is not eating i think its because it don't like the leaves i'm feeding it does anyone here know what to feed it?

  4. Roberta

    Sorry, I've been away from my desk. Lettuce is a good choice when you don't know what to feed a caterpillar. Organic (without pesticides) is the safest.

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