cutworm sensing danger plays dead to protect itself

13 Ways

to get rid of cutworms

Most cutworms all look similar. A cutworm can come in various colors and sizes…gray, brown and 1 to 2 inches long and feed at night and hide in the daytime.

A cutworm is usually found near the base of young plants, often below the soil with their larvae. In a single night they can clip off the stem of a whole row of plants. As adults, they are moths and do no damage to plants.


  • Dig around, hand-pick, squeeze and destroy any cutworms you find, especially efficient before dawn.
  • Predawn cutting of greens when they are still feeding shreds them into pieces.
  • Place a paper collar (newspaper) around new transplants. Push the paper collar, straw, or toilet paper roll into the soil at least 1 1/2 inches. The collar will decompose over time.
  • Rumor has it that 10 penny nails or a wire by each plant also discourages them.
  • Spread diatomacaeous earth powder around the base of your plants.
  • Spread wood ash around the base of each plant.
  • Plant tansey in your garden to repel them.
  • Place bird feeders near the planting beds to attract birds into the garden to get rid of the cutworms.
  • Apply beneficial nematodes. Nematodes destroy them by laying eggs inside the caterpillar so they can eat it before development.
  • Give them an alternate meal. Place bran mixed with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), on top of beds one before planting. Cutworms in the dirt will eat the bran instead of your new plantings.
  • You could try planting later. They are less active as the season progresses.

cutworm is using ballet like balance to climb up plant stem


In a large garden, you may need insecticides to control them. Sevin bait is used and be sprinkled on the soil surface or use liquid or dust applications of either Sevin or Diazinon. There are other insecticides for cutworms, but only use for plants as listed on the label.

Need help getting rid of cutworms? Call a local pest specialist.