How to Identify and Control Cutworms

Found throughout North America, it’s more likely that you’ll see the damage caused by cutworms before you see the cutworms themselves. Cutworms are the larval stage of large, brownish-gray moths with a wingspan of approximately an inch and a half. The cutworm, which is the most damaging stage, is grayish brown as well, are fat, rather greasy-looking, and measure one to two inches in length.

Life Cycle:

Eggs hatch in early May through early June, and the larva spends three to five weeks chowing down on garden plants in preparation for the pupal stage. They burrow into the soil to pupate, emerging as moths in late August through early September, after which they’ll lay eggs on plant stems and soil.


The eggs overwinter, and the process starts all over again in spring.

Signs of Cutworm:

Cutworm damage is unmistakable: plants are severed at or near the surface of the soil. They attack early vegetable and flower seedlings and transplants. They do their dirty work at night, and will occasionally eat the entire plant.

Effect on Garden Plants:

Very simply — they die. Cutworms mow the plants down completely, and you have to replant.

Organic Control for Cutworms:

For protecting the newborn plants from the cutworms, the easiest possible way is to put a cardboard or regular paper around the seedlings. Try to press the paper and let it go down into the soil. When the plant becomes mature enough, you can remove these collars.

Whenever you see any kind of damage done by cutworm, dig the ground around the infected plants. There is a huge chance that you will see some of the cutworms resting there and waiting to start their next trip of destruction. Make sure that you kill them as soon as you dig the ground to reduce the damage in future.

For those who have serious issues regarding the cutworms, you guys can plant the crops in mid june to avoid them. In june, they went deep into the soil to pupate.

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