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Growing your own vegetables is more popular than ever. Tasty kohlrabi belongs in every vegetable patch. But who is to blame if the kohlrabi leaves are eaten?

In a nutshell

  • Eaten leaves on the kohlrabi indicate pests
  • flea beetles, cabbage whites, cabbage weevils and whiteflies are the most common
  • regular inspection of the plants is important
  • Preventing is easier than fighting
  • There are home remedies and chemical agents against the pests

flea beetles

Small, sieve-like holes in the kohlrabi leaves indicate flea infestation. These small black or yellow-striped beetles like to colonize young plants. The flea beetles can jump and thus gain access to your bed. In addition to the damage they cause, they also stunt the growth of the plant. If you discover an infestation, it is important to react quickly. You can fight flea beetles with the following means:

  • regular inspection of young plants
  • Attaching strips of glue
  • regular weeding
  • Loosen the soil in the vegetable patch regularly
  • Don't water the soil too wet

Cabbage White

Larger holes in your kohlrabi leaves indicate that the insatiable caterpillar has eaten its fill of your kohlrabi. The cabbage white is a butterfly that lays its eggs on plants. The caterpillars that hatch then eat their fill of the kohlrabi leaves. However, they also poison the plant with their excreta, so that it can die. The following features indicate infestation with the cabbage white butterfly:

Source: Bernd Kirchberg, Cabbage White caterpillars, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • large holes in the leaves
  • many white butterflies in the garden
  • yellowish-green caterpillars with black spots on plants
  • yellow eggs on the leaves

You can combat the cabbage white butterfly by:

  • Collect and destroy eggs
  • Remove and destroy caterpillars
  • attach a vegetable net before the infestation
  • spread a wafer-thin layer of rock flour over the plants
  • Use caterpillar glue rings

Tip: The cabbage white does not like strong-smelling vegetables. For example, plant tomatoes, celery, elderberry, broad beans, onions, spinach, basil, coriander, rosemary, aniseed, mugwort or thyme near the kohlrabi.

Notice: The cabbage white butterfly, on the other hand, likes the scent of nettle manure. You should therefore not use them for fertilizing.

white flies

The pests suck on the kohlrabi plants and damage them. They are usually located on the underside of the leaf and are therefore not noticed at first glance. However, if you touch the kohlrabi leaves or plants, the whiteflies will fly off and you will recognize the infestation. Other features are:

Source: Sanja565658, Trialeurodes vaporariorum 01, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • sticky honeydew on the leaf surface
  • withered and dying kohlrabi leaves
  • holes in the leaves

Notice: The sticky honeydew that the flies leave behind is a good breeding ground for fungal diseases. This increases the risk that the kohlrabi plant will die.

You can do this:

  • spray with a soft soap solution
  • Use vegetable protection nets
  • fertilize soil
  • remove weeds regularly
  • Use glue rings
  • Plant lavender in the neighborhood
  • apply chemical agents against aphids

cabbage weevil

The black weevil is a pest that lays its eggs in the stem or root of the plant. Larvae develop from the eggs, which eventually feed on the roots and leaves of the kohlrabi. The beetle itself also eats the leaves. The following signs point to the infestation:

  • clearly eaten leaves on the kohlrabi
  • Holes in the root or stalk
  • larvae in or on the ground
  • recognizable beetles with proboscis

The cabbage gall weevil gets its name because it mainly affects cabbage varieties. This includes the kohlrabi. The beetles also like to eat radishes, horseradish and rapeseed. If the kohlrabi leaves are eaten and the cabbage weevil is to blame, you can:

  • Sort out infested young plants
  • Lay out glue strips
  • Always keep the soil moist (makes egg laying more difficult)
  • Rake the soil regularly
  • Allow birds, shrews and hedgehogs as predators
  • apply nematodes
  • use chemical agents

Tip: During the day, the beetles look for dark places to hide and sleep. Lay out wooden boards around your kohlrabi in the evening. The next day you can lift the boards and remove the bugs underneath. Repeat the process a few times.

frequently asked Questions

Can the kohlrabi still be eaten?

If the leaves are eaten and the kohlrabi is already ripe, you can still eat it after a visual inspection. Thoroughly remove eggs or caterpillars. It is important that you also make sure that there are no cabbage weevil eggs in the kohlrabi. Then you shouldn't eat the kohlrabi anymore.

What are vegetable protection nets?

The fine-meshed nets are also known as pest protection nets and are available in garden shops. They are slipped or placed over the plants and keep pests away. At the same time, they let through enough light to nourish the plants. Depending on the size, a net is available from around 15 euros.

What are nematodes?

Nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) are roundworms that are specifically released to destroy pests. They are about a millimeter long and actively seek out the host larvae. Because it is a biological pest control, it is harmless for humans and animals.

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