Pretty sure Michael Stipe of REM mumbled all of the words to his song, so I have no real idea why HE would be gardening at night. But for me, tonight, it was to go find the bastard cutworm(s) doing in my potatoes. I’ve now had two plants in 2 contiguous nights all but decimated. I only have 15 plants, so they just can’t have any more of them!
Armed with Petzl LED headlamp and trowel, I carefully dug around the cut stems of the plants. Around the most badly-damaged plant, I found nothing. But shortly after starting to search, a stem on a plant next to it fell! I had the bastard. Sure enough, curled in the soil near the scene of its misdeeds, was the worm. Possibly a black cutworm based on how it looked and its habit of eating the stem below the surface. I don’t really know how to tell, though. Nor do I even know if it matters much… they all can devastate young plants, and controlling any of them seems to require the same methods.
I spread diatomaceous earth around most of the plants afterward (you can see it in the photo) but I’m not convinced that will affect the usually-subterranian cutworms. I’ve read that collars of tinfoil or paper tubes can help, but my potato plants might be too large for that already. So far, searching for them near the affected plant just below the soil surface has been most effective. Manually picking them off by hand and applying traumatic compression is no longer a thing to make me squeamish. Just glad to get even.
Just by chance as I was going back inside, I looked for any bolted onions I might have missed. Sure enough, a similar looking worm was at the top of an onion leaf. Because it was climbing, it makes me doubt what kind of cutworms I’m dealing with, whether there are more than one type at play here, or whether this was something different altogether. I have been seeing caterpillar damage of some sort on onions in the side bed, but that could be anything, perhaps even the same green worms that are eating my lettuce. Or who knows… onions probably have their own caterpillar pest, while the lettuce worms are perhaps unique to it. The whole freaking insect world seems to be coming for my garden all at once.
But I’m going to defend it!