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Cutworm - Garden Insect Library - Saferbrand

Cutworm Control & Facts

Found throughout North America, these destructive eating machines may not be easy to see in your garden or fields since they tend to remain hidden under debris, preferring to come out at night to feed.

 

Holes in leaves and fallen plantings are prime symptoms of cutworm activity.  Some cutworms of the climbing variety will leave holes in tree and vine fruits and buds as well.

 

So... What are Cutworms?

Cutworms are the laval or caterpillar stage of certain moths. There are numerous species of cutworms, each affecting certain parts of plants in specific ways.

 

Cutworms can vary in color from brown to gray to black as well as green and pink.  Some species may have more than one color and some may have stripes or spots. Cutworm caterpillar or larvae are generally 1"-2" in length. When they emerge as adults, they will be gray or brown in color with dark or light markings on their wings.

 

 

 

 

Reproduction Patterns of Cutworms

Cutworms may spend the winter as pupae or they may overwinter in a partly grown larval state. If they are partly grown larvae, they will be particularly destructive when they emerge since they are hungry and ready to eat when the garden or field crops are being planted.

 

CutwormIn certain species, adults emerge in the spring and lay eggs in the soil or grass. Within a week, these eggs will hatch and the larvae will feed on the nearby plantings. After several weeks, the larvae will penetrate the soil and pupate.  They will emerge as adults by late summer.

 

In other species, eggs are able to survive the winter and hatch in the spring, where the emerging larvae will feast on early plantings and seedlings, and then go through pupation and emerge as adults. In all of these species, there is usually only one generation of cutworms produced in a year.

 

 

 

 

Cutworm's Habitat

Found throughout North America, these destructive eating machines may not be easy to see in your garden or fields since they tend to remain hidden under debris, preferring to come out at night to feed.

 

Whether as eggs or in a larval or pupal stage, the cutworm almost always hides under old crop debris, trash, grass clumps or any other form of protection it finds suitable.

 

 

 

 

Symptoms of Cutworm Damage

Holes in leaves and fallen plantings are prime symptoms of cutworm activity. Some cutworms of the climbing variety will leave holes in tree and vine fruits and buds as well. You will not see the cutworms during the day since they are only active at night.

 

 

 

 

Results of a Cutworm Infestation

Young plantings may be destroyed at the soil level, causing them to fall over in the garden or field. Seedlings may be completely devoured by the cutworms.

 

For the gardener, loss of crops are a source of frustration for time and care spent in growing the plantings. For the farmer, total loss of the plantings/crops can occur, resulting in a serious financial loss.

 

 

 

 

Natural & Organic Controls

What?

Safer® Brand Garden Dust features B.t. which is a chemical that can be used to help control the cutworm. B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a safe, effective method of eliminating your garden or field of the cutworm without environmental concerns or harm to wildlife and beneficial insects.

 

How?

Saferbrand garden dust to control cutworms

Safer® Brand Garden Dust kills cutworms, thereby preventing further damage. When the worm ingests the B.t., it works as a gut rot poison that makes the worm stop feeding. The cutworm will stop feeding immediately and die within days of malnutrition. B.t. can be found in a spray, granular or dust.

 

This product is very specific and only works on caterpillars and leaf feeding worms. It will not harm beneficial insects, children, pets or wildlife.

 

Sprays with pyrethrins such as Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer can also be used to paralyze the insects and result in their death.

 

When?

Safer® Brand Garden Dust is generally applied when it is a cooler time of day, preferably later in the afternoon or early in the evening since the product breaks down in sunlight and heat. Use in accordance with the directions on the product's label.

 

Safer® Brand offers a variety of cutworm control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our cutworm control products for more details about how they work and how, when, and where they should be applied.

 

It is recommended with any pesticide to test plants for sensitivity to the product. Spray a small section of the plant in an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before full coverage.

 

When applying pyrethrins to infected plants, carefully read and follow all directions on the product labeling for safe and effective application. Do not spray plants in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90°F.

 

Why Choose a Natural Solution?

Natural solutions break down quickly to their natural elements. B.t. is a specific, organic solution that only poisons insects in the caterpillar and worm families. All beneficial insects and earthworms will not be adversely affected.

 

Organics are preferable to chemical pesticides that leave residuals where they are sprayed causing long-term detrimental affects on the environment.

 

 

 

 

Natural Predators

What?

Catching toads and placing them in the garden is an inexpensive natural way to control cutworms. Both you and the toads benefit from this arrangement since they will have plenty of food and you will have fewer cutworms.

 

Parasitic nematodes (non-segmented round worms) are another natural control that won't harm the environment, your family, or wildlife.

 

How?

Toads will feast on the cutworms in your garden. Place parasitic nematodes on the soil where they will attack the cutworms.

 

Cutworm in the soil

 

When?

Catch the toads when the cutworms first appear and they will help control any other cutworms as they continue to appear. Read the directions for the nematodes to find out when to spread or spray them.

 

 

Images courtesy of Oklahoma State University and Forestry Images.
For a complete list of content sources please visit our site bibliography page

 

 

Safer®Brand brings you a variety of effective insect control products that are gentler on the environment! Most of them proudly display the OMRI Listed® organic seal and comply for use in organic gardening!

 

organic gardening products with the OMRI listed seal

 

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