Control Cutworms with Barriers
Barriers protect individual seedlings and other plants from cutworms. Surround plant stems with a “collar” that is about 3 inches tall, inserted an inch or more into the soil to secure them. Some materials to make barriers are:
Milk Carton: Grow seedlings in half-gallon waxed paper milk cartons. At transplant time, cut out the bottom of the carton and plant it, seedling and all, its top edge sticking out of the soil about an inch.
Paper Cup: Cut a hole in the bottom of a paper cup wide enough for your plant stem. Then cut a radial slit and fit the cup around the plant stem inserting it upside down into the soil 1 to 2 inches deep.
Window Screen: Cut pieces of window screening into strips about 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Roll each piece into a cylinder to surround the plant stem, and insert it into the soil. Fray its top edge so little sharp wires protrude where it was cut.
Control Cutworms with Traps
Trap cutworms by offering various alternate foods that sicken or immobilize them when they come out at night to feed:
Cornmeal Trap: Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cornmeal or bran meal in a circle on the soil a short distance from each plant stem or crown. As it approaches the plant the cutworm is forced to cross the meal and stops to eat it. It swells up inside the cutworm, killing it.
Molasses Trap: Mix equal parts of hardwood sawdust and bran. Add enough molasses to make the mixture sticky and enough water to moisten it. Scatter a few spoonfuls around each plant at dusk. The cutworms will try to eat the bait and get caught in the sticky molasses, which will harden on their bodies, rendering them helpless.
Control Cutworms by Handpicking
Handpick cutworms at night. Force them to the soil surface by watering the soil with a solution of water and insecticidal soap (1 spoonful of soap to a watering can full of water). The worms will crawl to the surface or up onto plants to escape the irritating soap solution. Wait about an hour and then look for them near the base of plants and just under the soil surface. Crush the worms between your thumb and forefinger or pick them off and (drop)them into a bag to discard in the trash.
Or, pinch off cutworm-infested plant tips and discard them in the trash. Minor pinching, early in the season does not harm plants and may, in fact, encourage them to branch and become bushier. However, avoid hand picking the pests if flower buds are forming at these tips.
Try Natural Insecticides
AzaMax will control this pest insect
AzaMax is a natural product with a broad spectrum of pest control and broad plant applications. AzaMax is an anti-feedant and insect growth regulator which control (kills) pests through starvation and growth disruption within two or three days. Therefore this product is used when the bugger is chomping on the foliage. Any of the sprayers can be used to apply AzaMax
For more information about AzaMax go to the Yardener's Tool Shed; click here
Control Cutworms with Predatory Nematodes
Where cutworms are a problem spray the soil or lawn with a biological insecticide product containing predatory nematodes. As they have been improved over the years, they have become an increasingly effective biological weapon against cutworms. Unlike the harmful root-knot nematodes which attack plants, predatory nematodes only attack soil-dwelling grubs and larvae. They seek out cutworms as hosts for their eggs, killing them.
Mix the powdered microscopic roundworms with water according to package directions and spray the slurry on the lawn or on the soil around your seedlings or transplants as directed. Be sure to choose a time when the soil temperature is warm enough. Because cutworms appear early in the season, the soil may be too cold in your region to use the nematodes.