Get Rid of Cutworms with This Simple Solution Right From Your Bathroom

source: Flickr/Brad Smith

While gardening is fun, rewarding, pleasing, comforting, and relaxing, it is also a challenge. Just think about planting your seedlings, nurturing them day by day, and the next morning, they are cut down or gone. This could be the handiwork of cutworms. Yes, those sneaky little pests that can turn your gardening dreams into a nightmare overnight.

source: I. Rottlaender/Shutterstock

Allow me to share with you the story of how I first came across these tiny villains. It was a sunny spring day, and I had just transplanted lettuce and tomato seedlings into the ground. I felt so happy, thinking of the salads and sauces I would prepare. But when I went to check on them the next day, half of my seedlings were gone! It was like a crime scene in a garden. I felt a lump in my throat, and I knew that I had to catch the offender.

Cutworms are the larvae of several species of nocturnal moths. These are not worms but caterpillars that live in the soil during the day and only come out at night to feed on your plants. They have a preference for young seedlings, which they sever at the base, thus giving the cutworm its name.

source: Reddit

How Can You Tell If You Have Cutworms?

Spotting cutworms can be tricky since they come out at night and hide during the day. Here are some signs to watch for:

  1. Missing Seedlings: If you notice that your seedlings are dying off or being cut off at the soil level, then cutworms are the likely cause.
  2. Wilting Plants: At times, cutworms do not entirely cut off the plant but instead harm it and make it wilt.
  3. Holes in Leaves: Although they mostly feed on the stem, cutworms may also feed on the leaves, resulting in irregularly shaped holes.
  4. Burrowed Soil: Check for the small, smooth channels at the base of your plants. These are the resting places of cutworms.

Cutworms are a problem, but there are ways to get rid of them and protect your plants. After you have identified the problem, it is time to act. And you can be sure that I was willing to do anything to protect my plants.

Handpicking

Sure, it’s as boring as it sounds, but it gets the job done. Take a flashlight and go out into your garden at night. Check for cutworms at the base of your plants and remove them by hand. Throw them in soapy water to make sure they don’t return.

source: Wikimedia/By Neil Phillips from uk – Large Yellow Underwing caterpiller

Toilet Paper Rolls

This is where your bathroom comes in handy. Instead of throwing away those used toilet paper rolls, you can use them to make a barrier around your seeds. Divide the rolls into two-inch pieces and push them into the soil almost halfway up around each plant. This keeps the cutworms from reaching the stems.

Eggshell Barriers

The remains of the eggshells sprinkled around the plants can also prevent the entry of pests. The pointed edges are effective in preventing cutworms from crawling over to your seedlings. Also, eggshells contribute some amount of calcium to the soil, which is quite beneficial.

Diatomaceous Earth

This is one of the best methods. Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the remains of algae that have been fossilized. Just spread it around your plants, and it will act like tiny pieces of glass, slicing and drying up the cutworms as they move across it. It won’t harm your plants or pets but is lethal to pests.

Image credit: Clemson University – USDA Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Bt is a naturally occurring bacterium that is toxic to many insect larvae such as cutworms. It is available in garden centers as a powder or liquid form. Apply it to the soil or on the plants, and when the cutworms consume it, they will lose their appetite and die.

Coffee Grounds

I was happy to find this method as a coffee enthusiast. Coffee grounds can be used to spread around your plants. The surface is rough to cutworms, and the caffeine may be lethal to them. Also, it is a good way of disposing of the used coffee and adding value to the soil through the use of organic materials.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is another home remedy that can be used. You need to dilute it with water and then spray it on your plants. It works as an insecticide and an insect growth inhibitor, ensuring that the cutworms do not develop into adulthood and lay eggs.

source: Flickr

Beneficial Nematodes

These microscopic worms are the natural enemies of cutworms. They look for cutworms and then infect them with bacteria that eventually kill the cutworms. It is possible to buy beneficial nematodes and apply them to the soil of your garden to add another level of protection.

Crop Rotation and Tillage

To keep away future infestations, change the location of your crops and plow the soil at the end of the season. Tillage makes it easy for cutworms to be eaten by predators or die due to exposure to extreme weather conditions. It affects their life cycle and makes it difficult for them to settle down.

Companion Planting

Marigolds and other similar plants can help to repel cutworms. You can plant them near the crops that are susceptible to pests to act as a protective barrier.

source: Duane Hirst/Shutterstock

Gardening is a process that has its share of high and low moments. Cutworms are just some of the pests that farmers and gardeners have to deal with, and it is all part of the fun. With these methods, it is possible to safeguard your plants and guarantee the growth of your garden. And remember, sometimes, the best ideas are just around the corner, or, as in this case, in the bathroom. Haha!