Cutworms leave a simple clue to their identity: Severed stems of young plants lie on the ground when you check on your garden in the morning.

Last Seen in the Vicinity of North America.


The moths do not damage plants, but cutworm caterpillars can be very destructive in some years. They feed at night on young plants, most early vegetables and flower seedlings, shoots, and transplants, usually cutting the stem at or just below the soil line so that the plant topples ov e r. They may completely consume seedlings. During the day, they rest just below the soil surface, curled beside the stems of damaged plants.



Adults are large, brownish or gray moths with 11?2- i n c h wingspans. Larvae are fat, greasy gray or dull brown caterpillars with shiny heads. There are several species of cutworms.

Most are found in the soil, although some also climb plants.

Crime Prevention

` Protect transplants from damage by using cutworm collars around the stems. Collars can be made of cardboard, plastic, or small tin cans with both ends removed. Press

them an inch into the soil.

` Avoid the main population of cutworms by planting later in the season.


` To clear the soil of cutworms before planting, scatter moist bran mixed with Bacillus thuringiensisvar. kurstaki (BTK) and molasses a week before setting out plants, or

drench soil with neem extract or a solution of insect parasitic nematodes, both before and after transplanting.

` Dig around the base of damaged transplants in the morning and destroy hiding larvae.

` To control climbing cutworms, spray plants with neem extract.