Bug of the week- Bad
Cutworms are really the larvae of night-flying moths and are pests that chew the stems and roots of young plants. They hibernate in the soil and emerge in the spring, when they do the most damage.
They are most active and feed from dusk into evening and on cloudy days. They can be solid pink, grey, green or black or wear spots or stripes. They are slightly squishy and can grow to two inches. When you turn the soil over they tend to curl up and this is often how they are first seen.
They can be found munching corn, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and all the cabbage family. A favorite food is sunflowers and a garden that was previously grass or weeds is prone to an infestation.
Keep an eye out for the moth as the female will lay her eggs in dry soil.
- Till soil in fall and spring. This disrupts the larvae and exposes them to the elements.
- Colar seedlings with cardboard or toilet paper rings when planting and delay planting until later in Spring
- Attract fireflies and birds, natural predators.
- Keep a wide strip between lawn and garden will help to make it harder for cutworms to reach your plants.
- Sprinkle Diatomaceous earth around the plants. ( Be careful not to breath this as it causes lung irritation!) It is very sharp and insects won't walk over it. (also works for slugs!)
- Go out in evening and hand pick.
- Mulch of oak leaves may be effective.
- Insecticide often unsuccessful.
- Plant sunflowers at edge of garden as bait.