These fat, smooth caterpillars vary from brown to black and may be spotted or striped. They feed at night on stems and leaves of seedlings as well as more mature plants.
Signs of cutworms are plants cut off at the soil line and holes in leaves or fruits.
Cultivate the soil in late fall and early spring to expose pupae. Weed regularly to remove their breeding places. Encircle vegetable transplants with bottomless paper cups or milk cartons inserted 1 inch below the soil with 3 inches above.
With susceptible crops, such as corn or beans, lay boards close to the rows; later destroy the cutworms that gather underneath. A light dusting of diazinon or carbaryl worked into the soil before planting can be effective. For an already planted garden, a cutworm bait is available. Follow the package instructions exactly.