Recommended reading on cutworm larvae.
“Cutworms or “armyworms” are common in New Mexico. They are nocturnal and often attack young seedlings. During the day they will hide at the base of plant sunder loose soil. One helpful identification hint is that they will often curl into a “C” shape when disturbed. They range from grey-green to brown to dark brown in color. Scout plants regularly for larvae and damage. Damage to young plants includes ‘cut’ stems and damage to leaves. The easiest way to find this is to search young plants at dusk/after dark with a flashlight. They can be removed by hand and placed in a dish of soapy water. Kaolin clay or diatomaceous can be sprinkled on and round plants to help deter them and abrade their skin causing them to desiccate. Plant collars or row covers can help prevent establishment, but should be put in place at the time of planting. If row covers are used after planting, then plants should be searched for pests before placing covers and monitored regularly to make sure pests haven’t been trapped underneath. Bt products can be effective at controlling young larvae.From Dr. Amanda Skidmore, IPM Specialist