Monday, May 16, 2011

garden pests: cutworms


this year as soon as we transplanted our broccoli, broccoli raab, brussels sprouts and cabbage seedlings, we installed cutworm collars. after two seasons we know (and perhaps we should have known after just one) that cutworm collars are necessary to save us the heartache of waking up only to find all of our brassica seedlings cut off at the stem.

cutworms are active in may and june. if you've been digging in your soil and have noticed a red pupa case, beware. these pupae will turn into cutworm moths which will lay eggs and produce more cutworms. the worms are grayish brown and usually will curl up if disturbed. a quick google search will provide you with photos of the worm, the moth, and the pupa case.

the solution is easy. just install a collar around each and every small seedling that you plant, particularly the brassica crops. we cut up old yogurt containers to make our own. the collars need to be pressed firmly into the soil to make an effective barrier. when the seedling grows and is sturdier, you can easily remove the collar and save it for next year.

by paying attention to the insects in your garden, you can garden smarter.

do you use cutworm collars?


  1. We learned that the hardway too. It's so disheartening when they get eaten. Oh and magpies who love to rip up bean shoots for the bean roots?! I have yet to outsmart those critters....

  2. i haven't grown brassicas before, but we're going to try some broccoli this year, so i will definitely be employing your suggestion. thank you! for helping me to avert garden heartache...

  3. excellent tip thanks! usually I go through a couple batches

  4. Thank you for this idea. I wonder if this would slow the slugs down as well. I am going to give it a try. They have been our biggest problem this year.

  5. i don't, but i will be now! thank you.

  6. Given that cutworms are night feeders, another strategy, especially effective if your numbers of cutworms are to go out after it has been dark for about an hour and hand pick them by the light of a flashlight. My little folk used to love these night time adventures and got to be very savvy at spotting them and scooping them into a container. If you have chickens, keep them for a morning fiesta! Or, what we used to do before chickens was, flush them.

    Collars are an excellent idea!

  7. Shari - I work at a non-profit in NC (, and we're working on organic pest control tip sheets for folks locally. Could we borrow the picture in this post for our sheet on cutworms? Please let me know!
    Many many thanks, and hope to hear from you soon -

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