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Cutworms: 13 Ways to get rid of cutworms

Turnip_moth_caterpillar__cutworm Cutworms all look similar.

Cutworms come in various colors and sizes...gray, brown and 1 to 2 inches long.

Cutworms feed at night and hide in the daytime.

Cutworms are usually found near the base of young plants, often below the soil. In a single night they can clip off the stem of a whole row of plants.

As adults, they are moths and do no damage to plants.


  • Dig around, hand pick, squeeze and destroy any cutworms you find, especially efficient before dawn.
  • Predawn cutting of greens when the cutworms are still feeding shreds them into pieces.
  • Place a paper collar (newspaper) around new transplants. Push the paper collar, straw, or toilet paper roll into the soil at least 1 1/2 inches. The collar will decompose over time.
  • Rumor has it that 10 penny nails or a wire by each plant also discourages cutworms.
  • Spread diatomacaeous earth powder around the base of your plants.
  • Spread wood ash around the base of each plant.
  • Plant tansey in your garden to repel cutworms.
  • Place bird feeders near the planting beds to attract birds into the garden to get rid of the cutworms.
  • Apply beneficial nematodes. Nematodes destroy the cutworms by laying eggs inside the caterpillar so they can eat the cutworm before development.
  • Give cutworms an alternate meal. Place bran mixed with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), on top of beds one prior to planting. Cutworms in the dirt will eat the bran instead of your new plantings.
  • You could try planting later. Cutworms are less active as the seasons progress.


     In a large garden, you may need insecticides to control the cutworms. Sevin bait may be used and should be sprinkled on the soil surface or use liquid or dust applications of either Sevin or Diazinon. There are other insecticides for cutworms, but only use for plants as listed on the label.

For the complete list of pests with pictures, and solutions, on this 500 page website, please click the A to Z link.


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