Cutworms — How to Keep Them OFF Your Plants

If you’ve gardened for any length of time, you’ve probably come across many little creatures — some welcome and others unwelcome.  The unwelcome guest we deal with in our garden in the spring is the cutworm.  It’s a larva for a rather forgettable moth, but while it’s still wingless it creates a path of destruction.  My pepper plants are particularly susceptible, but I’ve seen damage to tomato plants as well.

Cutworms stay in the soil until after dark when they come out like a zombie from the grave and wrap around plant stems.  They cut through the stem and eat the foliage.   Since they cut the plant of just above ground level, most plants can not recover and die.  However, I did have a tomato plant that was chopped down by a cutworm, but it survived and is doing well!

One of the best ways to keep cutworms off your plants is to wrap your plant stems with newspaper BEFORE planting them in the ground.  If you forget (like I did) you can still wrap them.  Just be sure to bring a little dirt up past the bottom edge of the paper, and watch for leaves that are touching the ground.  Cutworms will climb on the leaves, too, if that’s the only way they can find onto a plant.

I’ve also had some success using diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant.  It takes a heavy sprinkling of it so it doesn’t all wash away when I water the garden.  Cutworms apparently don’t like to touch the powder.  It is not a chemical, but a food safe powder made from crushed fossils.

If you have tips for keeping cutworms at bay, please leave a comment below.  Happy gardening!  🙂