The Q&A Archives: Controling cut worms

Question: What do you suggest to control cut worms without chemicals?

Answer: Hand picking the pests is effective, or you can use the botanicals Bt or diatomaceous earth. Before planting a new garden remove weeds and plant debris to starve developing larvae. Handpick caterpillars after dark. This is often most productive following a rain or thorough watering. Place cardboard collars (or toilet paper tubes) around transplant stems at planting time. Beneficial nematodes will attack and destroy cutworms in the soil, or you can release trichogramma wasps weekly for three consecutive weeks to parasitize cutworm eggs. Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the base of plants is very effective. Scatter bran or corn meal mixed with Dipel Dust (Bt-kurstaki) and molasses on the soil surface to kill caterpillars. Eco-Bran will also kill caterpillars that feed on it. After harvest pick up garden debris and turn the soil over around plants to disturb overwintering larvae.

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