Cutworms are pretty common garden pests found in home gardens across the United States. They commonly feed on plants such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and beets. Cutworms are soft and stout and have gray or dull brown colors. They typically feed on plants during the nighttime, and they are usually curled up and hidden underneath clumps of soil during the day. Because of their preference to go out at night and their color, they are usually difficult to detect. Do be encouraged by the fact, however, that there are many simple ways to control cutworms in your garden. Here are just some of the tips to help you out:
Know the symptoms of cutworm presence in your garden. As mentioned, you might have a hard time detecting actual cutworms in your garden. However, some signs that alert you of cutworm presence include holes in seedlings or plants just below the soil surface. It’s highly important that you check your fields regularly to detect cutworm infestation at the onset. Once you suspect that there are cutworms in your garden, dig down near the base of young plants where you might find hidden cutworms.
Protect your seedlings with barriers. There are simple and easy-to-make barriers that will serve as protective barriers for your young plants against cutworms. Some of the materials you can use as a barrier include milk cartons, paper cups, and window screens. Here’s what you need to do: just cut across your chosen material (ex. milk carton) to create a strip about 3 inches tall. Enclose individual seedlings with this strip and secure the strip about an inch into the ground. If you choose to use a paper cup, simply cut off the bottom and surround your plant with it.
Trap the cutworms. You could also prepare food for the cutworms that will render them immobile or helpless. Mix a small amount of hardwood sawdust with equal parts bran, and add molasses and water to make the concoction sticky. Put about two spoonfuls around each plant near evening, right before they start coming out. The cutworm will eat this concoction, which will result in the hardening of their bodies. You could then easily pick them up and take them away from your garden.
Handpick cutworms. Force the cutworms out of their hiding place by watering the soil with a solution of a spoonful of insecticide soap and about a can full of water. Wait for the cutworms to rise up to the surface, and handpick the cutworms one by one.
Encourage birds to visit your garden. These birds will be your helpers as they will happily eat the cutworms for you. Build bird baths and bird houses near your garden.
Consider using insecticides. If you have a relatively large garden, you may need to use insecticides for more extensive action. Some insecticide applications typically used for this purpose include Diazinon, Sevin, and Tempo. Make sure that you follow instructions to the letter.
There you have it! These are just some of the ways that you can effectively control cutworms. Good luck!