Cutworms in my winter garden

Hello! I checked my winter garden this afternoon as I was after some luscious lettuce and arugula (it is under a remy cover) and most of the leaves on my kohlrabi have been removed - just a sad looking stock - and a few of my collards as well. I dug around and found 4 cutworms - at least I think they are cutworms - brownish-grey gross fat grub-type worms that were curled up. I stomped them. :slight_smile: That is all I could see that would be causing the problem. What do I do to get rid of them? How did they find way into my covered garden? When I am done with the winter garden and want to plant more vegetables in the spring, do I need to do anything to ensure these guys are gone and don’t come back? Thank you!

I go out at night with a flashlight and check my plants for cutworms and other pests. A few nights of collecting pests can make an amazing difference. If you continue to see damage on the leaves go out again and have another look. There shouldn’t be any new eggs laid until next year, so there is nothing else to do till then.

I’m not sure how they get into a covered garden, but I have the same problem. I figure that a few sneak in around the edges of my remay.

It is a little hard to get rid of cutworms because it is a moth which lays the eggs and to catch them you need to set pheromone traps. Keeping the vegetable garden free of debris litter is supposed to deter the moth from laying her eggs in the first place. But if she does and the larvae hatch, they are almost immune to predation since they live most of their developmental life underground and out of reach. It sometimes helps to turn the soil over with a fork in the spring prior to planting as this will encourage birds to look for tasty tidbits. In case the birds don’t get all the larvae, you can put collars around your young seedlings…either when you transplant out or right as soon as the seedling appears above ground. Tin cans work well or a strip of flexible plastic with the ends stapled together. You want the cylinder to be about 4 inches tall as you should push it into the ground at least an inch. This works decently well as a deterrent but is not 100% foolproof, so keep up with the pit-lamping at night with the flashlight. Also a really good way to hunt slugs at night. BTW…there are two generations of cutworms a year.


Oh no! Two generations of cutworms! I thought that there was only one. When are the peak times for larvae?

Thank you for the information! Gotta get some batteries for my flashlight!!!

The half-grown over-wintering larvae start feeding in April then pupate in the soil. Adult moths emerge in early June and lay their eggs which hatch in 7 days, or less. This generation of larvae feed for up to 6 weeks then pupate in the soil. Adults emerge towards end of August, lay eggs, larvae hatch in a week or less and feed right up until the cold weather sets in. This second generation of larvae over-winters until mid-spring. One gets the sense these cutworms are truly dastardly buggers. Happy hunting!