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Cutworms Common This Spring

Jeffrey Hahn, UMN Extension Entomologist

Cutworm damage on potatoes
Sharon Smith
Cutworms have been a very common insect problem in many home gardens this year. They have also been commonly reported in Wisconsin and Iowa as well. Most of the cutworms that occur in Minnesota overwinter as large larvae. It has been speculated that the heavy snow cover we experienced this spring increased the survival of the overwintering cutworms. That coupled with the early spring allowed them to occur early in the season. There are some non-native cutworms, e.g. black cutworms, that move up to Minnesota from the south, but they did not appear to have been as damaging this year.

Cutworms hide during the day in the soil near the plants, then feed on plant stems at night. Their damage is most severe right away in spring when plant stems are more tender but not a problem later in the summer. Unfortunately, it's too late to manage cutworms any longer this year. That cutworms were very common this year does not necessarily mean that they will be numerous next spring. There are too many factors that influence cutworm numbers to make a prediction now for 2011. Regardless of how numerous they will be next spring, if you have had an issue with them this year, be on the watch for them in 2011. For more information, see Cutworms in Home Gardens.
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