How to Control Cutworm Infestations

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Cutworms can produce great damage in gardens. Unsuspecting gardeners can wake up one morning to find their garden demolished, with plants shorn off at the stem, laying on the ground like casualties of war. Cutworms are the larvae of different types of moths. They eat stems and leaves of plants voraciously, and can destroy up to 75 percent of your crop.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper cups
  • 1 oz. lemon-scented dish washing liquid
  • Molasses
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Bran
  • Paper cups
  • Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes
  • Plow or garden tiller

To remedy your cutworm problem, create a physical barrier between the cutworms and the plants you want to protect. This can be accomplished by placing cardboard (a paper cup will do) around the stem of the plant. Since the cutworm can't get to the stem, no damage can occur.

Cutworms are active at night and stay in the soil by day. To bring them out, use a soapy solution. Mix 1 oz. lemon-scented dish washing liquid with 2 gallons water and pour the solution on the soil. When the larvae appear, pick them by hand and dispose of them if the numbers are low.

If you see larger numbers of worms, spray the plants with Bacillus thuringiensis to kill them. You can also make a bait mix, from Bt, bran (to absorb the liquid Bt) and molasses, and sprinkle it around the area.

Use predatory nematodes against cutworms. Steinernema carpocapsae is found to be moderately effective against black cutworm.

Kill the eggs and overwintering larvae by deep plowing or tilling in the fall, and again in the spring.

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