Many species of cutworms from the night-flying moth family Noctuidae are found in home gardens across the United States. The larvae commonly feed on plant stems at or below ground, eventually cutting them down. Cutworms attack a wide variety of plants including beets, cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower.
Cutworms are common on a wide variety of vegetables and any fresh seedlings. To identify them, try patrolling your garden in dusk and evening hours, when cutworms will begin to feed. They are also partial to cloudy days.
Cutworm caterpillars (larvae) are stout, soft-bodied, gray or dull brown caterpillars (1-2 inch long) that curl up when at rest or disturbed. They feed at night and burrow into the soil during the day. Adults are dark gray or brown, night-flying moths (1-1/2 inch wingspan) with ragged blotches or stripes on their wings.
On the next page learn how to identify, control, and get rid of cutworms in the garden.