CutwormsCaused by: Agrotis ipsilon
Problem Category: Insect
Symptoms: Stems of young seedlings may be severed at soil line; larvae causing the damage are usually active at night and hide during the day in the soil at the base of the plants or in plant debris of toppled plant; larvae are 2.5–5.0 cm (1–2 in) in length; larvae may exhibit a variety of patterns and coloration but will usually curl up into a C-shape when disturbed.
Comments: Insect outbreak favored by a cool, wet spring following a mild winter; cutworms have a wide host range and attack vegetables including asparagus, bean, cabbage and other crucifers, carrot, celery, corn, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato and tomato.
Management: Remove all plant residue from soil after harvest or at least two weeks before planting, this is especially important if the previous crop was another host such as alfalfa, beans or a leguminous cover crop; plastic or foil collars fitted around plant stems to cover the bottom 3 inches above the soil line and extending a couple of inches into the soil can prevent larvae severing plants; hand-pick larvae after dark; spread diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants (this creates a sharp barrier that will cut the Insect if they try and crawl over it); apply appropriate insecticides to infested areas of garden or field if not growing organically.
Control: Spray 5% Neem seed kernal extract to control the cut worm