Cabbage moth

The cabbage moth Mamestra brassicae is among the most damaging pests in cabbage production.

The most relevant Lepidoptera pest species on cabbage in central Europe are cabbage white butterfly (Pieris brassicae and P. rapae), cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae) and diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella).

What are the symptoms of the damage caused by cabbage moth?

At the beginning of the infestation the young M. brassicae larvae feed on the cabbage leaves causing holes and skeleton damage. Later they start to feed on the inside of the cabbage core. At this point the damage caused at the inside of cabbage by the blackish faeces, as well as by the decay, are causing the highest losses.

What are the economic consequences of cabbage moth?

Brassica vegetable crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) are among the most important crops worldwide. For example, white cabbage is grown on more than 3 million ha annually. In the EU, cabbage and other Brassica crops are currently produced on 183,000 ha annually, yielding an estimated 528,000 tonnes. Cabbage vegetable crops are the second vegetable crop (after tomato) and represent 7.6% of the total vegetable production area.

How can cabbage moth be controlled?

At present, Mamestra brassicae cannot yet be controlled biologically, necessitating insecticide use in brassicae. Control is actually achieved by applying a wide range of insecticides, including dimethoate, deltametrin, and spinosad.

Use of pesticides

The use of highly selective biological control agents such as Bacillus. thuringiensis in cabbage is currently limited due to an efficacy gap of Bacillus. thuringiensis against Mamestra brassicae. In addition, most of the pesticides used do not only kill the pests, but also the beneficial insects, as well as other insect species.

BIOCOMES biological control agent

The overall objective is to develop a novel parasitoid-based product to control M. brassicae in Brassica vegetable crops with the potential to control additional noctuid pests of major agricultural crops.
Brassica/Mamestra is a good model to develop egg parasitoids against noctuid pests. At present, adequate control of Mamestra. brassicae by means of a selective biological control agent is a bottleneck for large-scale replacement of non-selective insecticides against invertebrate pests in Brassica vegetables. Control of Mamestra. brassicae by means of parasitoids represents an opportunity to selectively control the pest itself but it also opens the avenue to control the pest complex by means of biocontrol agents.

View slideshare presentation about cabbage moth.

Photo: FiBL

Lucius Tamm
Lucius Tamm
Cabbage moth

Biological Control Agents

A functional method to produce and store a novel parasitoid-based product to control M. brassicae in Brassica vegetable crops, as well as an efficient field delivery system for large scales parasitoid applications.

Read more

Current stage of the Biological Control Agent


Month 18: Key parameters relevant for production, storage, field application and longevity of Telenomus sp. and the selection of the most suitable lepidopteran host for reproduction of Telenomus sp. and establish
Month 36: Development of techniques to address requirements regarding storage, shelf life and logistics as well as development of an effective field delivery system for the use of Telenomus sp. in brassica vegetables
Month 36: Development of Telenomus sp. for control of M. brassicae in brassica crops
Month 48: Evaluation and integration of Telenomus sp. in current plant protection strategies in representative brassica production systems
Month 48: Characterization of Telenomus sp. population structures in European brassica vegetable production areas and determination of intraspecific variability of Telenomus sp


Want to know more about this project? Feel free to contact us!

Contact us

Subscribe to our newsletter

The BIOCOMES project has come to an end. The last newsletter has been sent.


Four years of public-private cooperation results in successful development of new biological control products

The EU project BIOCOMES started at the end of 2013 and aimed at the development of new biological control products. Now, at the end of the project, two new biological control products are...

Read more

“The end of BIOCOMES marks a good start”

“’The results of four years of BIOCOMES have been better than expected,” says project coordinator Jürgen Köhl of Wageningen University and Research. “This partnership between 14...

Read more


Impact of wildflower strips on biological control of cabbage lepidopterans

In a 2-year experiment we investigated whether wildflower strips can be used to enhance the control of cabbage moth, Mamestra brassicae L., and cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae...

Read more

Noncrop flowering plants noncrop flowering plants restore top-down herbivore control in agricultural fields

Herbivore populations are regulated by bottom-up control through food availability and quality and by top-down control through natural enemies. Intensive agricultural monocultures provide abundant...

Read more

View all publications

Share this