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Recycle A to Z

alternatives to pesticides - bugs/pests - cutworms


   Actual size:   Adult 1 1/2” wingspan   Caterpillar 1” – 2”

Cutworms are gray or brownish caterpillars that curl up when disturbed. They feed at night and hide in the soil during the day. Eggs are laid in the soil, and the larvae or pupae over winter in the soil. A sure sign of cutworms is sliced-off stems of seedlings at soil level.

Physical control
Protect individual seedlings with a 3” tube made from stiff paper or plastic pressed 1” into the ground. Toilet paper tubes work well. Spread cornmeal or molasses near the base of each plant. Cornmeal wells up inside worms when they eat it, killing them. Molasses immobilizes them, but is effective only during dry weather.

Biological control
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) - Bt is a bacteria used to control certain pest larvae, primarily caterpillars. Bt is not toxic to humans or other mammals but will kill butterfly (“friendly”) caterpillars as well as the problem ones. The bacterium kills larvae by interfering with digestion. Bt lasts on leaf surfaces five to seven days and must be ingested to be effective. There are many strains of Bt commercially available now, including strains for controlling mosquito and beetle larvae. Bt is most effective with younger, smaller cutworms.
Beneficial nematodes - Follow package directions and apply under recommended conditions.


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