How Can I Get Rid of Cutworms in My Garden?


Cutworms are destructive pests that destroy crops by chewing the foliage. Most damage occurs to young vegetable seedlings when the worms chew through the tender stem, cutting it off at or above the soil line. Later in the season, damage is not as extensive as the plants grow more mature. A large infestation of cutworms can devastate a home garden, and catching the problem early will help curb population growth if the proper steps are taken.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Tilller (hand variety or motorized)
  • Cardboard or tin foil
  • Insecticide for cutworms such as carbaryl or permethrin (optional)
  • Till the garden soil in the fall when all crops have been harvested. This kills or exposes any larvae that have hidden to overwinter in the soil. Till again in the spring to destroy any that survived the winter and to break up any leftover plant residue that could attract the adult moths to lay eggs on.

  • Remove weeds and plant debris regularly. Small weedlings will attract the larvae to the garden, and they will continue to feed on the young vegetable plants as they sprout. Weeds also serve as an attractive home to lay the eggs.

  • Make a tube-shaped sleeve of cardboard or tinfoil. Place it in the dirt a few inches into the soil, and several inches above the dirt line around the base of the plant when cutworms are present. This will create a barrier to keep most cutworms from reaching the plant stem.

  • Monitor your garden during the hours when cutworms are active, such as the late afternoon and evening. Damage often occurs overnight, but checking the garden in the evening might produce an opportunity to eliminate active cutworms.

  • Treat stems and foliage with an insecticide that kills cutworms. Apply the insecticide to the young plants at risk in the evening before cutworm activity begins.

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  • Photo Credit salad and vegetable plants growing in allotment image by scalesy from
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