Say Goodbye to Cutworms: Effective Methods for Eliminating These Garden Pests

Cutworms are a common pest that can wreak havoc on gardens. These caterpillars are known for their voracious appetite and can quickly destroy young plants by chewing through their stems at ground level. This can be especially frustrating for gardeners who have put in time and effort to cultivate their plants. In this article, we will explore the signs of cutworm infestation, understand their behavior, and discuss various methods for controlling and preventing cutworms in your garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Cutworms are a common garden pest that can cause significant damage to plants.
  • Signs of cutworm infestation include wilting, cut stems, and missing seedlings.
  • Understanding cutworm behavior can help you prevent and control infestations.
  • Natural methods for eliminating cutworms include using beneficial insects and planting companion plants.
  • Chemical solutions for cutworm control have pros and cons and should be used with caution.

Signs of Cutworm Infestation

Cutworms are nocturnal creatures that hide in the soil during the day and emerge at night to feed on plants. They are typically brown or gray in color and can range in size from 1 to 2 inches long. One of the telltale signs of cutworm infestation is finding young plants that have been severed at ground level. This is because cutworms wrap themselves around the stem of the plant and chew through it, causing it to collapse.

Another sign of cutworm damage is finding small piles of green or brown droppings near the base of affected plants. These droppings, also known as frass, are a result of the cutworms’ feeding activity. Additionally, you may notice wilted or stunted growth in your plants, as cutworms can cause significant damage to the root system.

Understanding Cutworm Behavior

Cutworms attack gardens because they are attracted to the tender stems and leaves of young plants. They prefer to feed on plants that are just emerging from the soil, as they are easier to chew through. Cutworms are most active during the spring and early summer months when many garden plants are in their vulnerable stages.

There are several factors that can attract cutworms to your garden. One of the main factors is the presence of weeds and grasses, as these provide shelter and a food source for the cutworms. Additionally, cutworms are attracted to areas with high organic matter in the soil, as this provides them with a favorable environment for survival and reproduction.

Natural Methods for Eliminating Cutworms

Method Effectiveness Cost Difficulty
Handpicking High Low Easy
Diatomaceous Earth High Low Easy
Nematodes High Medium Moderate
Bacillus thuringiensis High Medium Moderate
Companion Planting Low Low Easy

One of the most effective ways to control cutworms is by introducing beneficial insects and plants into your garden. These natural predators can help keep the cutworm population in check. For example, parasitic wasps and ground beetles are known to feed on cutworms and their eggs. You can attract these beneficial insects by planting flowers that provide nectar and pollen, such as marigolds and alyssum.

Another natural method for controlling cutworms is by using plants that repel them. For example, planting onions, garlic, or chives near susceptible plants can help deter cutworms. These plants emit a strong odor that repels the pests. Additionally, intercropping with plants like radishes or mustard greens can confuse and deter cutworms.

Chemical Solutions for Cutworm Control

While natural methods are often preferred, there may be situations where chemical pesticides are necessary to control a severe cutworm infestation. There are several chemical options available for cutworm control, including insecticides that contain ingredients like carbaryl or permethrin.

However, it is important to consider the pros and cons of using chemical pesticides. On the positive side, chemical pesticides can provide quick and effective control of cutworms. They can also be applied directly to the affected area, making them a targeted solution. However, there are also drawbacks to using chemical pesticides. They can be harmful to beneficial insects and other wildlife in your garden, as well as potentially harmful to humans if not used properly.

Preventing Cutworm Infestation

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to dealing with cutworms in your garden. There are several steps you can take to prevent cutworm infestation. First, it is important to keep your garden clean and free of weeds and grasses, as these can attract cutworms. Regularly remove any plant debris or fallen leaves from your garden, as these can provide hiding places for cutworms.

Another preventive measure is to create a physical barrier around your plants. This can be done by placing collars made of cardboard or aluminum foil around the base of your plants. These collars should extend a few inches above and below the soil surface to prevent cutworms from reaching the stems.

DIY Cutworm Traps

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can also make your own cutworm traps to catch and eliminate these pests. One simple method is to bury a small container, such as a yogurt cup, in the soil near affected plants. Fill the container with a mixture of water and dish soap, which will attract and drown the cutworms. Check the traps regularly and dispose of any captured cutworms.

Another DIY trap involves using cardboard or newspaper strips soaked in vegetable oil. Place these strips around the base of your plants, and the cutworms will get stuck on the oily surface. This method can be effective in trapping and removing cutworms from your garden.

Companion Planting to Repel Cutworms

Companion planting is another effective strategy for repelling cutworms from your garden. Certain plants have natural properties that repel or deter cutworms, making them excellent companions for susceptible plants. For example, planting marigolds or calendula near your vegetables can help repel cutworms due to their strong scent.

Other companion plants that are known to deter cutworms include dill, sage, and tansy. These plants emit strong odors that can confuse and repel the pests. By incorporating these companion plants into your garden, you can create a natural barrier against cutworms.

Using Organic Pesticides to Control Cutworms

If you prefer to use organic methods for cutworm control, there are several safe and effective organic pesticides available. One option is to use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring bacteria that is toxic to cutworms and other caterpillars. Bt can be applied as a spray or dust directly onto the affected plants.

Another organic pesticide option is neem oil, which is derived from the neem tree. Neem oil works by disrupting the feeding and reproductive behavior of cutworms, ultimately leading to their demise. It can be applied as a spray onto the affected plants.

In conclusion, cutworms can be a frustrating pest to deal with in your garden. However, by understanding their behavior and implementing various control methods, you can effectively manage and prevent cutworm infestations. Whether you choose to use natural methods, chemical solutions, or a combination of both, it is important to take action and protect your garden from these destructive pests. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a healthy and cutworm-free garden.

If you’re looking for more information on how to get rid of cutworms, you might find this article from Lawn World helpful. They have a comprehensive sitemap that includes a variety of articles related to lawn care and pest control. Check out their website at for more tips and tricks on maintaining a healthy and pest-free lawn.


What are cutworms?

Cutworms are the larvae of several species of moths that are known for their habit of cutting down young plants at the soil level.

What damage do cutworms cause?

Cutworms can cause significant damage to young plants, cutting them down at the soil level and killing them. They can also feed on the leaves and stems of older plants.

How do I know if I have cutworms in my garden?

You may notice cutworms in your garden by seeing the damage they cause to your plants. You may also see the larvae themselves, which are usually gray or brown and can be up to 2 inches long.

What plants are most susceptible to cutworm damage?

Cutworms are known to attack a wide variety of plants, but they are particularly fond of young seedlings and transplants.

How can I prevent cutworm damage?

To prevent cutworm damage, you can use physical barriers such as collars made of cardboard or plastic around the base of your plants. You can also try using natural predators such as birds or beneficial insects like parasitic wasps.

How do I get rid of cutworms?

To get rid of cutworms, you can try handpicking them from your plants or using a natural insecticide such as Bacillus thuringiensis. You can also try using cultural controls such as crop rotation or removing plant debris from your garden.