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Extension > Garden > Diagnose a problem > What's wrong with my plant? > Vegetable > Broccoli > Holes in leaves

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Broccoli > Leaves > Holes in leaves

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  • Image: Cabbage Looper 1
  • Image: Cabbage Looper 2
  • Image: Cabbage Looper 3

Cabbage Looper
Trichoplusia ni

  • Larvae feed on leaves resulting in large ragged holes
  • Severely defoliated plants may not form a head
  • Dark green larva excrement may be present
  • Larvae are up to 1 ½ inches in length, light green, and move in a characteristic “looping” action
  • Present from early July to late August
  • More information on Cabbage Looper
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  • Image: Imported Cabbageworm 1
  • Image: Imported Cabbageworm 2
  • Image: Imported Cabbageworm 3

Imported Cabbageworm
Artogeia rapae

  • Larvae feed on leaves causing irregularly shaped holes
  • Larvae are up to 1 inch in length, velvety green in color with faint yellow stripes running longitudinally on the back and sides
  • Larvae are present throughout the growing season
  • Brown larva excrement may be present
  • More information on Imported Cabbageworm
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  • Image: Flea Beetle 1
  • Image: Flea Beetle 2
  • Image: Flea Beetle 3

Flea Beetle
Phyllotreta spp.

  • Adult feeding on leaves creates shallow pits and small, irregular holes giving it a “shot hole” appearance
  • Plants appear wilted
  • Plants may be stunted
  • Adults are small (1/16 to 1/8 inch long), and vary in color; all have enlarged back legs
  • Present throughout the season, young plants more susceptible
  • More information on Flea Beetle
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  • Image: Zebra Caterpillar 1
  • Image: Zebra Caterpillar 2
  • Image: Zebra Caterpillar 3

Zebra Caterpillar
Melanchra picta

  • Feed on leaves, can defoliate entire plant
  • Caterpillar is black with yellow longitudinal stripes on both sides
  • Present in early summer and again in late summer
  • More information on Zebra Caterpillar
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  • Image: Cutworms 1
  • Image: Cutworms 2

Cutworms (climbing and non-climbing)

  • Plant is cut off at or just below the soil surface
  • Can chew holes in leaves (spring and early summer)
  • Can cause “blindness”, in which no head develops
  • Cutworms are grayish or brownish and up to 2 inches long; typically found during day hiding in soil
  • Damage occurs during spring and summer
  • More information on Cutworms
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  • Image: Black Leaf Spot/Gray Leaf Spot 1
  • Image: Black Leaf Spot/Gray Leaf Spot 2

Black Leaf Spot/Gray Leaf Spot
Alternaria spp.

  • Gray to black round leaf spots with concentric rings
  • Leaf tissue becomes dry, brittle and often falls out, resulting in a ‘shot hole’ appearance
  • Leaf spots often appear first on lower older leaves
  • Broccoli and cauliflower heads may develop dark brown irregular sunken areas
  • More information on Leaf Spot
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  • Image: Red Turnip Beetle 1
  • Image: Red Turnip Beetle 2

Red Turnip Beetle
Entomoscelis americana

  • Adults feed on leaves, and can defoliate entire plant
  • Plants may be stunted
  • Adult is ½ inch long, red with three black strips that run longitudinally down its back
  • More information on Red Turnip Beetle
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  • Image: Diamondback Moth 1
  • Image: Diamondback Moth 2
  • Image: Diamondback Moth 3

Diamondback Moth
Plutella xylostella

  • Affected tissue eventually falls out resulting in small holes
  • Larvae feed on leaves, turning tissue opaque/white color
  • Larvae feed on developing heads which can cause deformities
  • Larvae are up to 1/3 inch and pale green in color
  • Present throughout the growing season
  • More information on Diamondback Moth

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