Unknown Pest--Help?

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Hi. I have a pest or pests in my garden that is wreaking havoc and I don't know what it is. The damage it is doing is getting pretty bad, so maybe you guys can help me identify it.

Here is what's happening:

First a volunteer squash plant wilted. When I pick it up, the plant had been severed from the root. Nothing appeared to be eaten.

Next, some of my pea plants completely disappeared.

Next, two branches of my tomato plants were severed from the plant.

Then this morning, my large healthy nasturtium was lying on its side. It too had been severed from the root.

I looked around and realized some of my leeks were missing. One of them was lying on the ground and something had eaten it from below. I dug around a bit but couldn't find a tunnel or hole. There are no signs of gophers.

I know I have earwigs and snails. I also have a lot of cats going through my garden.

Any idea what could be severing these plants like this, and why?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Hi invsgirl,
Welcome to Gardebnforums.com
Sounds like cut worms. Are these palnts seedlings or established plants?
On the squash plant was there an "entry" hole in the stem?
Cut worms can be controled in a number of ways, every thing from organic to chemicals.
When you have seedlings you can take toilet paper rolls and cut them into 3 inch sections. Then you place them over the plant . I bury about 1 inch inthe ground. These "collars" will help protect the plants from the worms. Usually you will not see them as they do their damage at night and during the day they will be just under the ground or mulch near the plant. You can also use talc powder and spread it is abrasive and will cut the worms bodies. Diatomaceous earth works better ( what is in swimming pool pumps) but it can be expensive and you usually have to get it from a pool supply store. If you want to spray, Organicide or Neem oil will work but not only will you spray the plant you must saturate the ground around the plant.

There are many types of chemical treatments out there. Not knowing what area you are in it would be best to check with your local hardwarde store to see what exactly is available if you choose a chemical solution.
Hope this helps.
Thank you so much! I looked up cutworms and I have indeed seen those in my soil. The fact that they are nocturnal also makes a lot of sense. My plants are established now. Have you tried the talcum powder yourself? How well does it work?

Thanks again.


Super Moderator
Staff member

I have tried talc, however you really have to use a pretty thick layer around the plants. You also must replace after rain or watering :( The diatomaceous works better and last longer but is more expensive. ~ Neem oil is also organic and is relativly cheap and found at most garden and hardware centers. ;) Choose your weapon :d and give 'em heck!

Thanks, you know me I will always go there first ;) I love the collars , I learned that from "Organic Garden Magazine" about 30 years ago. You can also make use of those pesky plastic bottles that way. They will last a lot longer too. Then recycle for next year..... or in a proper facility. ;)

Kya D

Active Member
When I put out small plants and there are cutworms in the garden I always cut both ends out of tuna cans and use them as collars pushed into the ground around the plant this keeps the worms at bay
If you can't recognize the pest which attack the better option in this situation is the use of insect killer or pest
removal spray which are very effective for us.

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