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Cut Worms can viciously chew through the stems of young seedlings and completely toppled them overnight. Discover this simple yet effective way to control cut worms naturally!

Cutworms or cutter worms, as some call them, love the entire Brassica family which includes: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts plus they also love bean and tomato seedlings, too.

How to Control Cut Worms Naturally

::WARNING:: You must take action prior to realizing you have a cut worm problem!

broccoli seedlings in garden with can of wood ashes that are being spread around little broccoli plants to stop cutworms
Control Cut Worms Naturally

Learn how to get rid of cutter worms…..Be proactive and control cut worms naturally NOW!


These caterpillars are the larvae of night flying moths and have the capability to completely ruin your tender seedlings overnight!



I have had cut worms topple many seedlings before I even knew they were present in the dirt.

This is why it is so very important to take this easy precautionary step to ward off the pending devastation.

Tomato cutter worms can topple your tomato seedlings overnight. They are devastating!

Learn how to control cut worms naturally today.


Sadly, there are really no warning signs of cut worms unless you happen to see the little curled up bodies while digging in your garden soil.

These little creatures come out at night and burrow in the top layers of the soil during the day.

Cut worms can be any color. The variety that we have are mainly brownish green.

The telltale sign is the way you find them in the dirt. They seem to be tightly curled up during the day in a small curl.

If you find them, feed them to your chickens or destroy them completely. They are not your friend!!!

Follow the simple steps below to learn how to control cut worms naturally!


Carefully transplant your brassicas, beans or tomato seedlings into your garden. Make sure to pat the dirt around the stems of each seeding.

Members of the brassica family like the dirt to be somewhat firm around their stems.

I like to make a depression or “well” area around each of my transplanted seedlings for water.


  • Take wood ash from your wood stove or fireplace and carefully sprinkle a collar of ashes around the stem of the seedlings.
  • Make sure to get some of the ashes below the soil line. Sprinkle them about 1/2″ to 1 ” deep to help prevent the cut worms from burrowing under the surface of the soil
  • This wood ash is scritchy-scratchy on the soft worm bodies. The cut worms will not cross this wood ash collar.
  • If you do not have access to ashes, check with a neighbor as they may offer you some of their ashes for this purpose.
  • If wood ashes are not available, then diatomaceous soil or earth is equally as good. Diatomaceous earth is made of small abrasive particular that do the same thing as the wood ash. They cause the scritchy-scratchy feeling that the cut worms plus, as an added benefit, the cut worms will eat the diatomaceous dirt and die from internal abrasion.
wood ashes sprinkled around a young broccoli seeding help control cut worm naturally


I usually take one additional precautionary step……I like to add some wood chips on top of the ashes. The wood shaving add additional extra scratchiness as an extra deterrent.

Protect Kale Seedlings from cut worm damage.
Protect Kale Seedlings from cut worm damage.

Have you experienced Cut Worm damage? Please leave a Comment below on how you solved this dilemma……


Paper Collars-I have made small paper tubes out of 3 x 5 index cards. I cut the index card in half from top to bottom.

Then, I roll the index card to form a tube. By rolling these tubes ahead of time, you make a circular paper protective tube that can be carefully slipped around each seedling stem.

I have made many of these paper tubes. They work…..but are labor intensive.

I now prefer the wood ash collars due to the fact they are so much faster to add while planting your individual seedlings.

So, if you are one to say, Ugh…..Cut Worms… now know how to control cut worms naturally in one easy step!

If you found this information interesting and helpful, please share it with your all your Gardening Friends!

They will be Happy….as, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure in this case!!

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    January 14, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Great article. There is no end to the “critters” large and small that we have to deal with in the garden!

    • Original Homesteading
      January 21, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      Susan…..I agree, garden pests are so annoying! I love easy-to-do preventative measures that be taken before problems present themselves. I learned the hard way, after having almost all my little broccoli seedlings toppled overnight by these nasty cut worms! An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure in this case……Thanks for writing!

    • Anne
      June 20, 2022 at 5:07 pm

      What about carrots? The seedlings come up just fine, but the next day they are gone! Also, you can make collars out of toilet paper tubes!

      • Original Homesteading
        June 24, 2022 at 2:08 pm

        I have not had this issue but it could be slugs or carrot weevils that are eating your seedling carrot tops…if you have slugs in your garden, the wood ashes should help. Or, try diatomaceous earth or crushed eggshells. It may also be carrot weevils which are small beetles that love carrot tops. Google carrot weevils as there are safe ways to control for these annoying little pests.

  • Dawn
    May 25, 2019 at 12:21 am

    I have (thankfully) not had to deal with this particular pest (yet!), but I appreciate the information when the little buggers do show up (and I figure they will eventually, it seems like everything eventually comes around).

    Found you on the Farm Fresh Tuesday blog hop.

    • Original Homesteading
      May 25, 2019 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Dawn, I hope they do stay away! When digging in the dirt, keep an eye out…cut worms live under the surface during the day and come out at night. They are a smooth, grayish, plump worm about an inch long and will be tightly curled up. They are definitely not our friends!!!

  • John L
    May 8, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    A cutworm is actually a caterpillar. I was always told to remove the bottom of a disposable beverage cup and set that around the base of the seedlings. I generally use a 12 oz paper cup, but, and forgive me for saying the P word, a larger plastic cup should work and is reusable. Be sure to run a slit up the cup for removal after you feel it is no longer needed. A 2nd advantage of the larger plastic cup is slows down slugs. I have more slugs than cutworms.

    • Original Homesteading
      May 8, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      That is a good idea with the cup. I like the idea the that cups can slow down slug activity as well. I have also used rolled paper tubes that are placed around the seedling stems to stop these cutworm caterpillars. I just find the ashes to be pretty quick and simple although multiple applications on barrier method are certainly advantageous! Thanks for writing and Happy Gardening!

    • Rhonda McCue
      June 4, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      Curious as to what stops the cutworm from crawling up and over the cup? I read about erecting a toothpick fence and went out at night with a flashlight to see if it had any effect. Watched the cutworm easily climb the ‘fence’.

      • Original Homesteading
        June 5, 2020 at 8:42 pm

        Hi, I used to make the paper cylinders and taped them around each seedling but it was time consuming. I am so glad that I switched to the wood ashes as it is a snap to sprinkle a collar of ashes around each seedlings as they are planted. The gritty texture of the ashes discourages all types of crawling cutworms. I have never tried the toothpick barricade…sounds fun but pretty labor intensive. Thanks for writing!

  • Lise
    July 2, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Hello, I have started seedlings of brassicae (cabbages, broccoli, kale etc…) about 2 weeks ago. The seedlings are outside, in some open shelves, uncovered, under a tree (that’s the only spot I found that would get gentle light exposure but not too much – I live in Spain and young plants burn if left unprotected) .
    My little babies are growing well, they are about 5-6cm high.  However yesterday I noticed several of my plants had a cut at the base,  or even  0.5cm in the soil. The plants are not cut off completely.
    The soil I use is a commercial mix for seedlings, so I wouldn’t expect any cutworm, unless they would have moved there the past  2 weeks. I have noticed some big ants around but haven’t witnessed them chewing on my plants.
    Any idea what it could be ? Any possible treatment ? ashes, diatomeas earth…?
    Thanks a lot !

    • Original Homesteading
      July 3, 2021 at 12:01 am

      Aw….I am so sorry to hear that you have lost some of your seedlings. I am not sure on the ants, but it definitely sounds like it could be cutworms. They are so difficult to spot as they come out at night. I would try either the diatomaceous earth or ashes. Plus, as they get a little bigger also consider making paper tubes to slip around the seeding stems. These small pieces of paper, rolled in tubes, can be gently unrolled around each stem and taped to secure. The paper tubes are pushed slightly into the dirt to completely protect each seedling stem. (Index cards work great to make the paper tubes.) It is a bit labor intensive but will help save your seedlings. Hope this helps!


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