Cutworms are essentially the name given to the larvae of several species of moths that you see flying around at night. They have an exceptional appetite and got their name "cutworm" from their ability to cut down small, young plants as they feed on the stems. Cutworms may stay and feed off of a plant until the food source is depleted, while others move along and cause damage to many plants in an area. One may also find cutworms that climb up and feed on the foliage and leaves of trees, sometimes identified by a trail of silk left on their path. For the most part they will attack and consume a wide range of plants, mostly common vegetables and some may attack turf grass.
Most of the damage from cutworms occurs to very young vegetable plants and the seedlings, when the plant is very tender. Active mostly in summer, they have the ability to devastate a garden. Adult moth populations, coupled with plant damage are good indicators of a potential cutworm infestation.
Best Practices for control with cutworms is to regularly check your garden and inspect for damage early in the season. Actively looking in the morning hours is effective, as this is the time of day that they are known to be most active.
To control large populations, use of an insecticide such as a Carbaryl, Cyfluthrin or Permethrin for medium to long term control is ideal. Keeping these pests out of your garden long term will minimize the damage and allow your garden to flourish as intended. This can also be effective against other pests that are known to wreak havoc on outdoor gardens and plant life. Observation and quick planning is key in any pest control program.
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