C is for Cutworm

I've been dealing with these delightful creatures all spring:


They hide just under the soil during the day and at night they come out to feed on stems and leaves of young seedlings and transplants. The worst part is that they often curl around the stem and chop off the entire top of a newly planted transplant, effectively killing it instantly. So now I'm patrolling daily looking for damage and digging out the ones I can find, replacing the transplants (as long as I have enough backups!) As you can see, they curl into a 'C' shape when disturbed.

I suspect the population has been boosted somehow by the long cold winter and the wet early spring, since I didn't see any damage last year. But the real irony is that they are certainly taking a larger toll this year because of a management decision I made - planting earlier and smaller transplants - partly in response to pest pressure from a different caterpillar called the imported cabbage worm that I observed last year. It's been more work, but I thought it would pay off by mid summer...

The farmer became too busy when people began to investigate the world and decided that it would be “good” if we did this or that. All my research has been in the direction of not doing this or that. These thirty years have taught me that farmers would have been better off doing almost nothing at all.
— Masanobu Fukuoka, The One Straw Revolution

Simplify, simplify, simplify...