Species: Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper)
Who: Loopers are easily identified in their larval stage because they crawl by arching their backs, creating a “loop.” They are thin, green, and, well, loopy. The adults are very dull, brown moths that look like every other kind of plain, small moth.
What: Though often accused of feeding on fruits, these caterpillars feed on foliage. As their name suggests, they are usually associated with cabbage but are known to feed on a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, bok choy, and broccoli.
When: Preferring moderate temperatures, they are most prevalent during the summer months, but activity levels depend on location and temperature.
Where: Cabbage loopers can be found across North America and Eurasia. North American populations migrate from Mexico to Canada, depending on seasonal changes, and often overwinter in Mexico.
Why: Due to resistance to pesticides, cabbage loopers are becoming more and more widespread. They’re often found in high numbers when present in crop fields or gardens.
How: Even when present in large numbers, control is often discouraged. Their small size prevents them from being destructive enough to cause considerable damage. In fact, they’re considered a good thing to have around because they’re hosts for many different parasitoid species. These parasitoids often control other more notorious pests, and increases in their numbers are nothing but good!