Cutworms have long been a nuisance in the home garden and bigger lawn. These larvae come from different species of moths and are capable of causing severe damages to the plantations. Cutworms are nocturnal and thus, only feed after dark. You will not see any cutworms during the day. Hence, gardeners commonly find out the damage caused by cutworms in the next morning. As its name suggest, cutworms damage the plantations, especially the young ones by clipping off seedling stems and young plants around the soil surface. Cutworm infestation may cause damages to a large number of vegetable plantations, that early treatments and prevention are needed.
Signs of cutworm infestations
To properly treat damaged plants and prevent future infestation, the signs of cutworm infestation should be checked thoroughly. Some signs of infestation can be seen physically if you manage to look for them carefully. Those signs are:
- There are some kinds of crops undergoing fresh cuts on the stems.
- Cuts on the infested crops occur the next day, while in the previous day the plantation seems to be healthy.
- There are some cutworms physically seen near the plants’ roots after dark.
Cutworms can be gardeners’ nightmare because of the damages they cause. Severe cutworm outbreak often causes harvest failure. In order to prevent major damages caused by this pest, early monitoring and findings should be considered. Cutworms damage the crops by eating the stems and cutting them off. Hence, protecting the crops from cutworm bites is essential in minimizing the effects. To perform thorough cutworm control and thus, preventing the damages there are some methods to perform, including:
Controlling cutworms naturally
Natural cutworm controls can be done by applying conventional methods. These methods include monitoring and getting rid of cutworms physically. To control cutworms using natural solutions, which is safer and more affordable, these methods are useful:
- Monitoring cutworm infestation closely after dark. You can hardly see cutworm infestation during the day since the pest is nocturnal. At night, conversely, cutworms can be seen around the crops’ roots, especially during the outbreak. To do the inspection, look for the critters around the plants’ roots and lower stem, which is usually targeted by cutworms.
- Picking infesting cutworms by hands. Once you found the pest, do not leave them alone with the crops, as you might find most of the crops you have planted cut off the next morning.
- Make an affordable crops collar made of recycled plastic or cardboard. Place the collar around the plant and push it onto the soil. This will prevent cutworms from climbing up the stem and chew the big part of it.
- Spread grounded egg shells around the plants. Grounded egg shells will not only give nutrition to the soil but acts as drying agent which has an ability to absorb excessive moisture. Grounded egg shells also dehydrate cutworms and eventually kill them.
- Installing bird feeders near the infested areas. Using natural predator is a good pest control method, including cutworms.
Controlling cutworms using pesticides
With severe cutworm infestation, natural control methods, such as the protective collars might be time-consuming and thus, ineffective, unless it is taken as a preventive method before you physically see the moth worms. In this case, the use of pesticides can be helpful for minimizing the effects of cutworm infestation. Helpful pesticides for cutworm infestation include:
- Diatomaceous Earth. DE is made from fossilized water plants and algae and has a high content of silicon. This tiny material has sharp edges which tear insects’ organs and eventually kill them. To control cutworms using DE, spread the DE around the base of the plants where cutworms usually appear from. At night, cutworms heading to the stem must cross the soil sprinkled with DE, which will cuts the outer layer of its body, exposing the organs and dehydrate the worm. They will die because of this.
- Using pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis. If you decide to use a chemical pesticide, do it after dark for maximizing its effects on killing cutworms infesting the crops. Pesticides with thuringiensis is a natural cutworm killer but may harm butterflies—a natural pollinator. Hence, controlling cutworm infestation using chemicals should be combined with more natural methods, so that the balance of ecosystem can be maintained.