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List of garden pests : Cutworms

Cutworms are caterpillars – the larvae of night-flying moths – but they are unusual among caterpillars in that they live just below the soil surface, attacking young plants just at, or below, soil level. Lettuce and young cabbage family plants are those most commonly damaged.

The seedling stems are usually eaten through at soil level – hence the name. The affected plant then falls over and withers. Cutworms can be brown, green or yellowish, and a single caterpillar often works its way along a row of seedlings, eating as it goes.

Search in the top 2 to 4 centimetres of soil near the most recently damaged plants for the caterpillar and remove it. Controlling weeds helps too, as fewer eggs are laid. Generally, no chemical control is necessary.


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