Thursday, May 26, 2016

Garden Pests ~ Climbing Cutworms

Last fall I allowed the kale to self seed in a 4'x12' bed so I would have plenty to harvest through winter and into spring. To my surprise, by mid-winter all of the small to medium sized plants had been totally stripped of every leaf. I was blaming it on slugs until today...

Pupa of 'Large Yellow Underwing Moth'
While preparing that same raised bed for this year's winter squash plants, it did not take much digging to find the culprits who cleaned out the kale crop... climbing cutworms! They love winter brassicas and devour plants from about December through March. They pupate in April or May and once they move to this stage they are no longer feeding. Their pupa are these mahogany 'bullets' found in the soil. I found and removed upwards of 60 of these pupa from last winter's kale bed.
Besides the garlic and strawberry beds this was the only raised bed not covered with black plastic since the fall of 2014. I have had a problem with climbing cutworms, millipedes and slugs for the past 4 years and decided to leave the garden fallow for a year. I was planning on putting a few chickens in the garden enclosure to organically clean up the soil but that just has not happened yet. This revelation has put plans for chickens on the front burner again!

For more information and photos of the Climbing Cutworm, check out Linda Gilkesons'  December 8, 2014 Gardening Newsletter

Till next time... Happy gardening!

Photo by Sally Rae  

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