By Kathleen Mierzejewski
Few things are more frustrating for the home gardener than walking out to your garden and finding a previously healthy seedling lying on its side, literally snipped off at the ground. While it may appear to be a marauder with scissors that caused this damage, this is not the case. What you have are cutworms in garden beds. These caterpillars chew through the stems of plants at ground level and kill them. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of cutworms and keep your seedlings safe.
Cutworm Control in the Garden
The earlier you take steps to stop cutworms, the better off your garden will be. One of the most important things you can do to stop cutworms before they even start is to make sure you have a clean garden. Cutworms in garden beds normally hatch from eggs laid on weeds or dead plant material. Clearing these away reduces the places that cutworm eggs can be hidden.
If you have a serious problem with cutworms in garden beds, avoid planting cover crops in the fall as this may make your cutworm problem worse.
Another form of cutworm control in the garden is the use of collars on young or susceptible plants. Cutworm collars can be made out of aluminum foil, cardboard or paper. A popular way to make cutworm collars is to take a toilet paper or paper town cardboard roll and cut it into 4 inch lengths. Slip the roll over a young plant when you plant it, making sure to push the collar at least half way into the soil so that the cutworms cannot get under the collar.
How to Get Rid of Cutworms
If you already have a cutworm problem in the garden, you may be wondering how to kill cutworms after they have gotten into your garden beds. You can use chemical pesticides to kill cutworms, but be aware that most cutworms attack vegetable plants and you may not want to use chemical pesticides on food crops as these can take several weeks to dissipate.
Consider using organic pesticides to kill cutworms instead. You can find recipes for organic pesticides here. A wash of bleach free dish soap and water on your plants can also help to stop cutworms from attacking the plants.
While these pests are frustrating, cutworm control in the garden is possible. Knowing how to get rid of cutworms will make raising your vegetables a little easier.