How to deal with tomato cutworms without pesticides

Until last year, We’d never had a recognizable problem with cutworms, but last year they were terrible!

Actually caterpillars, these little mis-named buggers come out at night and attack new seedlings by taking two or three bites out of the stem, cutting it down.  Then it moves on to the next plant.  They can devastate a garden in a night – and that’s just what they did with my garden last year.

I’m not totally against pesticide use – being from the Deep South, it’s tough to adopt the Never Chemicals stance.  I am more of the Spiderman school of pesticide use…

With great power comes great responsibility!

So I try to minimize my use of chemicals but I’m not above sprinkling some acephate on some ants or dusting some carbaryl on the infernal tomato bugs. But only as a last resort.

I read somewhere last year that cutworms are kinda dumb (whoda thunk it?) so you can easily confuse them into leaving your plants alone.  Here’s the trick:

Take a cardboard toilet paper tube and cut it in half so that you have two cylinders about 1.5 inches tall.

Then when you plant your seedlings, slip the tube down over the plant and press it into the ground all around the plant.




The theory is that cutworms vastly prefer tender young plants, so when it arrives at your plant and takes its first bite out of the cardboard tube it thinks that this is an old, woody, tasteless plant so it moves on, giving your babies time to get established unmolested.

I’ll let you know how it works later this season!




Categories: Food, Gardening, Nature

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