Cutworms

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Black cutworms can wreak havoc on your garden, so learn these tips for identification and control.
GrowVeg.com/Sam Droege on Flickr Creative Commons

Have you ever put out your transplants and the
very next day you go out to check on them and
they are mowed down by some unseen creature?
It’s something all gardeners face one time or another.
Here is the culprit: Cutworms . They are
plump, smooth-skinned, greasy- looking caterpillars
up to one inch long and they often are found
curled up at the base of your now defunct plant.
Young transplants may be cut down at the ground
level or branches may be removed from larger
plants. Even some damage to small tomato fruits
may occur on older plants.
What to do: Physical barriers such as aluminum
foil wrapped around a 4 inch length of the stem
between leaves and the roots may be used to protect
newly set transplants. Baits, sprays or recommended
insecticides may be needed. Avoid planting
tomatoes in soil that recently was in grass or
sod. Do not allow the soil to touch the uncovered
stem above the foil.


Nasturtiums in cutworm collar (toilet paper tube). Heide Veronica

Another organic solution is to use the cardboard
tubes from toilet paper or paper towels. If
using paper towel tubes, cut them in half. Unravel
the tube and then insert it into the soil a few inches
around the transplant while making it into a tube again.
It doesn’t need to touch the plant like the aluminum foil and it will decay into the soil
over time.

Pre-plant insecticides can also be used such
as a single application of 0.115 percent bifenthrin
(High Yield Vegetable and Ornamental Insect
Granule or Heavy weight Multi Insect and Fire Ant
Killer) applied just prior to planting or after plants
emerge and worked into the top 4-6 inches of soil
may protect seedlings from cutworms, wireworms,
fire-ants and other soil insects. Use one
pound of product for a 500 square foot area. Always
read the label for complete details. Or you
can use permethrin 0.25 percent and apply according
to label. But with this product do not apply
more than 5 times a season.

Find more information at extension.
tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/
PB595.pdf titled 'You can Control Garden Insects
298" (available only online)

Colette Mancke, AMG Team Member

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