How to Get Rid of Cut Worms

Cutworms are a finite problem lasting 2 – 3 weeks in the early spring – just about the time you have planted your veggie garden seedlings and your seeds have erupted.  You generally don’t know you have them until you see wilted and dying seedlings in your garden that have been cut off near, at , or below soil level.  Here are some strategies to cope with them.

Characteristics of Cutworms:

  • larvae from eggs that have overwintered, laid by a variety of adult moths on grass or other green plants/weeds in the garden or at the garden’s edge in the fall
  • they emerge hungry & ready to feed so they can reach their next enstar (stage of development), which is that of a pupae or cocoon
  • range in color from grey to brown & black, with or without spots
  • curl themselves up into a classic C shape when exposed from the soil
  • check out this Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Fact Sheet on identifying cutworms (note: this is not of natural pest control): http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-055.htm

What Cutworms do:

  • live in top 2” of soil
  • like to feed at night or on cloudy days
  • some emerge from the soil, others feed just below soil level
  • feed on the stems of the young plants – thus cutting off the stem – hence the name, cutworm
  • feed by wrapping their bodies around the stem to grip on & eat

Getting rid of Cutworms:

It is possible to reduce the incidence of cutworms but it takes discipline

Here are a few ideas

  • Tilling in both the spring and fall to expose the cutworms
  • Placing collars around the base of the stems
  • Placing something (a nail, toothpick, straw) right beside the stem so the cut worm can’t wrap itself around the stem to dine
  • Natural pest control

Also,  check out the following links below:

1. The Old Farmer’s Almanc

Link:   http://www.almanac.com/content/cutworms

2. Gardening Know How

Link:  http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-cutworms.htm

3. Natural pesticide recipes

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/natural-home-pesticides-organic-garden-pest-control.htm

4. Montana Homesteader

Link:  http://montanahomesteader.com/get-rid-cutworms-garden/

5. Mother Earth News

Link:  http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/natural-pest-control-zmaz87mazgoe.aspx

6.  Canola Encyclopedia

http://www.canolacouncil.org/canola-encyclopedia/insects/cutworms/

– by Sharon Wallish Murphy

About The Author

Sharon Wallish Murphy
Sharon grew up in the Wallish Greenhouse at the heels of her father, Charlie, who mentored her. Sharon’s passion is to share the love for growing and to empower others to find joy in their gardening journey, just like her dad.