University of Illinois Extension
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Cutworms

Description

Black, variegated, and other eastern cutworm species attack vegetables. The cutworm adults are moths, which are either brown, gray, or black in color and mainly active at night. They lay eggs on the soil around weeds or on bare ground in midsummer to early fall. The eggs hatch into larva in late summer while others the following spring. The larvae attack a variety of vegetables. Cutworms kill plants by girdling the stem of the plant. The girdled plant then falls over and dies. The cutworm feeds at night.

Control

Commercial - Use soil applied insecticides recommended in your state. Homeowners can use a standard vegetable can with top and bottom removed and put around the plant at transplanting time. Half the can needs to be below the soil line. This creates a physical barrier to the insect. If the plant inside can is cut off, replant outside of the can and use new can (cutworm by chance was in soil inside can with cut off plant).

Photos

Cutworms kill plants by girdling the stem of the plant. Homeowners can use a standard vegetable can with top and bottom removed and put around the plant at transplanting time