They are 1 to 2 inches long with shiny heads.
Cutworms are gray or dull brown fat caterpillars.
Almost any plant including grass can be attacked in the seedling stage. Cotton and certain vegetables sometimes have stand reductions.
The larvae are called cutworms because they cut down young plants as they feed on stems at or below the soil surface. Cutworms curl up into a tight "C" when disturbed.
The adults are night-flying moths and do not cause damage.
As general feeders, most cutworms attack a wide range of plants. Some common vegetable hosts include asparagus, bean, cabbage and other crucifers, carrot, celery, corn, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato. In addition, a few species feed on turf grass.
Other species, such as glassy cutworms, remain in the soil and feed upon roots and underground parts of the plant.
Cutworm Prevention Tips
- Plant later in the season, when cutworms aren’t as active, as a preventative measure.
- Fall and spring cultivation will help reduce populations of overwintering larvae.
- Look for cutworms curled near the base of young plants. You may have to dig a few inches into the soil to find them. Dig into the soil each morning and destroy any cutworms you find.
- Protect young plants from cutworms by placing a paper collar around new transplants. Push the paper collar into the soil at least 2 inches. The collar will decompose in time as the plant grows.
- Encourage hungry birds to visit your garden by placing birdbaths and feeders near the planting beds.
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