Insects & Other Pests ›
Cutworms are caterpillars that feed on the stems and leaves of young plants and often cut them off near the soil line, hence their common name. Although there are many important species of cutworms, the black, granulate, and variegated cutworms are the ones most commonly encountered on North Carolina turfgrass. Many cutworms prefer wilted plant material and sever the plants sometime prior to feeding. Cutworms in turf often burrow in the thatch or ground. At night they emerge and chew stems and blades near the soil. The damage may appear as circular spots of dead grass, finger-sized brown crescents or ball marks on a golf green. Bronzed cutworms are active in Spring and Fall and may strip large areas of turf at ground level.
Kentucky bluegrass is a non-preferred host, for black cutworm, compared to creeping bentgrass and perennial rye and may reduce infestation. This may be used in mixed turf or in border areas. The nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae is moderately effective against black cutworm. Follow label instructions exactly. Bacillus thuringiensis products work best while larvae are young. Collection and removal of clippings from the area may be helpful.
For chemical control, liquid formulations should be used, applied as late in the day as possible, and not watered in for at least 24 h. Treating a 20-30 ft buffer zone aroundgreens and tees will reduce migration from outlying areas. Preceed chemical treatments with mowing 24 hours prior to treatment. Apply chemicals in the evening for optimal night time contact.