Glassy cutworm. Now what?

newberrie(5b/6a)April 14, 2012

We moved into a house with an established garden (woo-hoo!) and this is my first year trying my hand at it. I was turning in some compost when I found a few of these little 3/4" white caterpillar-type things with brownish-reddish heads. After much time spent on google, I found the picture. Glassy cutworms. What do I do now? Should I treat the garden? Avoid planting anything in that particular corner of the garden? Obviously, I need to collar all of my seedlings, but will that be sufficient? I don't want to be ruined before I even get started!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

this is my first year trying my hand at it

==>> a couple bugs do NOT make a plague ...

is there any chance you might be over reacting???

let me suggest that until you find ACTUAL DAMAGE .. on an actual plant.. that there is .. 99% of the time.. no reason to be reactionary .. or proactive ...

if it were me.. i would spend one to 2 years.. doing nothing but weeding.. observing my new garden.. ID'ing the plants.. and making decisions on what i want.. dont want.. what needs to be moved..

AND!!! what needs to go.. because it attracts to many bugs ...

so.. my answer to DO WHAT?? .. is NOTHING ... relax ... its a garden.. there are bugs in it.. dont worry about it ...

ken

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 9:16AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Glassy cutworms are plant eaters, so they *don't* infest compost piles.

More likely, you found a beetle larva -- a grub -- which does and, thus, is a decomposer but *not* a plant damager.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 12:54PM
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newberrie(5b/6a)

Sorry I wasn't clear. I was mixing the compost into a garden bed. The cutworms were under the soil, but I wouldn't have noticed them had I not been digging the compost in. This is a vegetable garden, not a flower bed. It is currently devoid of any plants except some overwintered carrots that we were unaware of until they were unearthed bythe tiller. We are getting ready for spring planting. I've read that glassy cutworms feed more underground on roots rather than at the base of seedlings. How can I protect the roots? Should I avoid planting root vegetables in this section, or will that not make much of a difference?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

newberrie, are you sure that you've seen cutworms and not beetle grubs? I'm just curious, as Glassy cutworm is not a species that I am familiar with.

I did some quickie reading and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that you only have a few of these. They appear to be quite difficult to control. I'd avoid broad spectrum chemicals, since this is an example that your predatory species might be very important in keeping the pests under control.

I did not read that they were a pest of root veggies, but rather of grasses and grain crops.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:56PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Glassy cutworms aren't white.

Beyond that, please post a picture or two so that we won't need to guess what's going on.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:15PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

newberrie, are you sure that you've seen cutworms and not beetle grubs? I'm just curious, as Glassy cutworm is not a species that I am familiar with.

I did some quickie reading and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that you only have a few of these. They appear to be quite difficult to control. I'd avoid broad spectrum chemicals, since this is an example that your predatory species might be very important in keeping the pests under control.

I did not read that they were a pest of root veggies, but rather of grasses and grain crops.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, Jean, most of the images I saw of this larva do show it to be white. It is also said that the 'innards' can be viewed from the outside, much like a grub.

I'm attaching this link just for the image and description, not for the pesticide recommendations. This was taken from an agricultural website, where chemical control is broadly used.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lookee here

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:24PM
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newberrie(5b/6a)

Yes, Rhizo, that's it. Here's another picture I found online.

Here is a link that might be useful: Another picture

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:32PM
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newberrie(5b/6a)

I found this info on the site linked below...

"Other species, such as glassy cutworms, remain in the soil and feed upon roots and underground parts of the plant."

Here is a link that might be useful: Root damage

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:45PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

But your link is for agriculture in Minnesota, not Washington. I suppose they could be a glassy cutworm, I'm not at all familiar with those, cannot find them addressed WSU.edu. I'm assuming from your zone E. Wash, where wheat is a significant crop and they are apparently damaging to grasses and grains...but little information available at state university extension site. Which makes me wonder if they are a large problem in your area....

Several things roughly fit your description, even weevil larvae, which I know we do have :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 5:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can we get back to discussing bugs in the garden of a person who is dealing with their FIRST GARDEN..

crimminey ...

are you all suggestion that she needs to go out and eradicate every single bug .. worm.. snail.. slug.. zygote .... flying insect.. wing-ED moth.. caterpillar... etc.. bunny .. deer.. mole.. vermin.. chippie.. bird.. ad nauseum ...

in her new garden..

or are we going to discuss.. with this NEWBIE.. that she needs to actually see some SIGNIFICANT damage.. before she starts to worry about nuking the darn place ..

crimminey .. [i think that would be double crimminey.. wait .. thats a third.. lol]

if you want to make Entomology [the study of bug-ish like things] a secondary hobby.. associated with your garden.. so be it.. and good for you ...

but wasnt your immediate premise something along the lines of .. and i will quote :

"What do I do now? Should I treat the garden? Avoid planting anything in that particular corner of the garden? Obviously, I need to collar all of my seedlings, but will that be sufficient? I don't want to be ruined before I even get started!"

and the simple answer to that.. IMHO is.. do NOTHING!!!!! .. until you see some damage ...

lets see if that will get them to focus back on what you actually asked.. rather than a debate about the bug.. quadruple crimminey ...

ken

ps: if you are a bug-a-phobe ... i would suggest you cover the garden with cement .. then build a humongous greenhouse ... add sterilized media.. and basically develop your garden into an operating room level cleanliness ... its ONLY at that point.. will you be bug free ... [and probably not even then .. cause they will figure out how to get in] .. and your goal is NOT to be bug free.. its to be .. relatively .. damage free ...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 7:19PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

We need to see an image of newberrie's critter, not of images from the web.

Here's another web page image & info. In my experience, the glassy cutworm is dirty white rather than white. And in my area, that cat is more likely to be an agricultural pest than in a home garden.

So newberrie, let us see a picture of your critter, pretty please.

All that said, I agree with ken -- pointless to be overwrought about one critter.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 8:44PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

ken...get a grip! No one has suggested anything about control measures. Nor do I think that newberrie is a bugaphobe.

I, for one, just have a rather fixed need to know the ID of a critter before I even start that discussion.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 10:42PM
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newberrie(5b/6a)

Okay, it's been raining, but now it's clear so I dug for a few minutes and caught some. Here are some pics...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 6:55PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Nice pictures, thanks. They are absolutely NOT Glassy (or any other kind) Cutworms. See those big mandibles (jaws)? See that they have three sets of legs but no prolegs (false legs) at the posterior?

That's a larvae of one of the ground beetles. Most ground beetles are predatory and so are the larvae. They feed on slower moving critters than they....slugs, sowbugs, grubs, probably worms, etc. I'm not sure which species this one is. but it is FOR CERTAIN the larvae of a ground beetle.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:37PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Thanks for the images.

As rhizo said, it's the youngster of a beneficial ground beetle.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 6:32PM
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newberrie(5b/6a)

Woo-hoo! Thanks so much for easing my mind. My husband saw them as I was taking the pictures and was about to nuke the whole garden with who knows what! (He has no problem using chemicals of any kind, but that's another thread...) I convinced him to hold off until I could find something out, knowing y'all could help. He'll be so relieved to know it's "beneficial"! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:01PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You need to tell your husband to come here before he feels the urge to 'nuke' the whole yard. First, we'll spank him and then we'll educate him.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 10:22PM
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