Cutworms and Dipel

vickima(z5 MA)May 30, 2006

I just learned of Dipel this spring and don't have any experience with it. I was interested in it for the worms that live in greens (after feeding one to a guest in her salad last year), but I understand it is also effective as cutworm control.

I planted most of the garden yesterday with many seedlings. I used toothpicks around a lot of them but nontheless lost a tomato seedling overnight (I found the cutworm and fed it to the birds). The spinach I started from seed has had a rough time.

I wonder if dusting the bottoms of the plants with Dipel will help. I'm worried that since a cutworm got through my toothpick barrier in one day, I could lose the whole garden in short order. I know cutworms have been discussed before, but I'm interested in reports of successful organic treatments. Do you have a cutworm success story to relate? What organic control worked for you?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Dipel works slowly through the gut of the caterpillar. They must ingest it along with the plant material, and will continue eating until the bacterium inoculant can begin to do its work. By that time, who knows how many seedlings you will have lost. Therefore, I think that improved exclusionary tactics are called for at this point. Perhaps a temporary dixie cup collar or something like that.

Bt (Dipel and other name brands) should be mixed with bran and used as a bait prior to planting your seeds or seedlings (for cutworms). If you are interested in trying that now, it might be a worthy experiment. I sure wouldn't place your bait up next to the seedlings, however, but at a reasonably safe distance away.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:33AM
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vickima(z5 MA)

I think I'll give the bait idea a try in an area where I just planted bean seeds. Does it have to be bran or can it be corn meal? (I think I read elsewhere that corn meal is attractive to cutworms, but I'm not sure if that was proven or just a guess.

Do you know how far they can travel? I found the cutworm that killed the tomato, still right next to it, and I've seen others just below the soil surface. But a leaf was cut from a lettuce seedling last night and I couldn't find the worm that did it. How deep or far should I look? Also if you are going to try the bait idea, I wonder about how the cutworms will know about it and how far they'll go to get it.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 1:24PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

They won't travel far; you will need to apply the bait in the vicinity of your plants and hope that they decide to go for the Bt baited goodies INSTEAD of your veggies.

Oat bran is the most recommended (as far as I've read) bait substance, but try the corn meal, by all means. You could also sprinkle horticultural grade diatomaceous earth around the plants, as well. (Meaning, in conjunction with your bait.)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:17AM
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vickima(z5 MA)

Thanks. I did try the corn meal mix near a row of spinach last night. No way to know if it's working, but I think I'll get some bran and try it near the area I just planted with bean seeds. Found three more today munching on potato plants. I can use better "collars" on transplanted seedlings next year, but they really are a nuisance for plants grown from seed. I'll give the diatomaceous earth a try too.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 7:18PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

Some folks plant a radish trap crop, spray/dust the radish with dipel, The worm has to eat something before the bT is absorbed.

Some folks claim that gnatrl works, it's a bt made to work unter the soil surface.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 7:41PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

That's good to know about radishes, and I like the idea of a trap crop. I'll give it a try. Every morning I find a little more cutworm damage!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 9:27AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Gnatrol is a different strain of bacillus (Bt-i), and does not affect caterpillars (Lepidoptera) but only insect larvae in the Diptera order such as flies, gnats, and mosquitoes.

The Bt strain (Bt-k) that affects caterpillars must be eaten. It works via the gut. Not much for them to eat under the soil, ;-)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 12:59PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


Howard Garrnet in TX says it works ...

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 1:44PM
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I have 2 raised beds that were infested with cutworms last year. I would like to plant swiss chard and spinach from seed in them this year. As I understand the worms overwinter in the soil. If so, I need to prepare them before planting.

Anyone know what would be the fastest method to kill them?
Bt laced bran, the radish idea above or something else?

I would really appreciate your opinions.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 4:43PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

I was under the impression that cut worms were usually found in the garden where you have clumps of grass. I don't believe I have ever found them where there was no grass. Have I just been lucky?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 2:02AM
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