What's Cutting My Corn Off at the Ground?

Stalks of corn (Zea mays) severed near ground level through the night are a sign cutworms are on the job. These insects are caterpillars which feed on the stalks of other plants and corn. By migrating adults hatch in early spring when eggs laid during the fall or the cutworm’s life cycle starts. Cutworm eggs are found on low plants or on the floor. Till they develop into their adult form these insects will continue to feed on corn and other plants throughout the spring and in the summer.

Cutworm Habits

Cutworms are currently burrowing insects that emerge from the soil to feed at the night. Cutworms feed on a variety of plants but will aim tender such as corn seedlings. These pests chew through it, leaving the remainder of the plant onto the floor and wrap themselves around the stalk of this plant. There are currently rising species of cutworm which can climb corn stalks to feed on their foliage.

Cutworm Damage

Damaged or completely severed stems which are chewed at or just below ground level are a powerful indicator of cutworms. Following feeding on it these insects leave little holes in the soil around the base of the plant. Plants close to the border of gardens are attacked after eggs. Damage is spread after eggs laid by migrating hatch throughout the backyard. Feeding species, such as black cutworm, will move from plant to plant, leaving a plant every night ruined.

Identifying Cutworms

Cutworm eggs are round with a flattened top and dull white. These eggs have a feel and are laid placed at rows that are densely packed on the floor or plants. Cutworm larvae typically measure 1 to 2 1 3/4 inches and will curl in on themselves when disturbed. The cutworm includes a semi-transparent grey or light body body with irregularly spaced black dots. The variegated cutworm includes a darker, tan-colored body with a underbelly that’s speckled with white spots.

Controlling Cutworms

The ideal time to control cutworms is until they begin or hatch feeding. Tilling weeds in around the backyard in the end of this growing season in fall helps destroy eggs which would hatch the following season. Tilling again before planting time will help remove these pests. Ditches around the perimeter of a corn patch helps stop migrating cutworms .

Spraying Cutworms

Pesticides using the active ingredient carbaryl provide control over cutworms. Pesticide made from liquid carbaryl concentrate is best mixed in a speed of 1.5 oz per 1 gallon of water at a pump sprayer unless the tag specifies otherwise. add the carbaryl and shake the concentrate before opening the bottle and fill it. Apply in the night to the bases of the plants and the corn plants surrounding them. Always wear pants gloves and long sleeves when handling pesticides to prevent accidental contact. Spray through you’re spraying. Carbaryl is highly toxic to honeybees, avoid using it or blossoms when possible and don’t spray it onto corn in two weeks of harvesting it.

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