So named because they chew seedlings off at ground level, cutworms are the larvae of various moths. Up to 2 inches long and of diverse color, the hairless caterpillars feed at night; during the day, they can be found underground or beneath debris near a food source, curled up in a ‘C’ shape.
Target: Young seedlings and transplants; lawns.
Damage: Stems of young plants are chewed off near the ground. Leaves of older plants show ragged edges and chewed holes.
Life cycle: Moths lay tiny white eggs, often in weeds or debris. After feeding, the caterpillars pupate in the soil. The insect can overwinter at any stage of life. There are up to four generations each year.
Notes: For a simple collar, remove both ends from an empty can, then place it over a seedling. Before handpicking, flood infested areas to force cutworms to the surface.