Cutworms are large, hairless caterpillars, the larvae of night-flying moths. They are up to 2 inches long and curl into a "C" shape when disturbed. They are a major pest to vegetable gardens, flowers and lawns.

Damage From Cutworms

Cutworms can be grouped by their feeding habits.

Surface Cutworms feed on plants at ground level at night and are pests of lawns, vegetables and flowers. After feeding, they burrow into a small hole in the soil where they reside during the day. Surface Cutworms favor new, succulent tissue of emerging seedlings or transplants, chomping through stems at soil level, causing plants to tip over (hence, the name) like fallen trees.

Subterranean Cutworms live underground feeding on the roots and below ground stems of sod, vegetables and grains, causing plants to wilt and die.

Climbing Cutworms feed above ground, favoring tender leaves, buds and flowers.

Where Cutworms are Found Geographically

Cutworms are common throughout the United States.

Related or Similar Pests 

Armyworms. Leaf-feeding Caterpillars. 



Cultural Controls

  • Inspect your plants at night using a flashlight. Destroy any Cutworms you see.
  • Cultivate the soil in summer or fall to expose Cutworms to birds and destroy larvae by hand.
  • Use cardboard, foil, or paper collars around the base of young seedlings.