By Clay W. Sewell
Cutworms are a common early season garden pest that will need to be dealt with early so you don't lose too much of your yard or garden.
You'll have a hard time seeing them since most of them are night feeders that hide beneath clumps of soil and litter during the day. The most common cutworms are those that cut off your plants at soil level and leave the tops lying on the ground nearby. Climbing cutworms move up onto your plants at night and feed on the foliage.
If cutworms are present, they should be within 1 to 2 inches of the damaged plant and not more than 1 to 3 inches down in the soil. The worms are dirty gray in color and will normally be found in a curled-up position. They may range from a half inch to 1.5 inches in length.
Cutworms can do a lot of damage to your garden and usually require control. In the normal-sized home garden, cutworms can be kept away from plants, especially the transplants, by using a mechanical-type control. Milk cartons, cans or various other open-ended containers can be used. However, if you have a large garden, insecticides may be needed to control the cutworms. Sevin (carbaryl) 5 percent bait may be used and should be sprinkled on the soil surface at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. You can also use liquid or dust applications of either Sevin or Diazinon. Be sure to read and understand all label directions before using any pesticides.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact the County Extension office at 265-5481, ext. 233, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.