Finding chewed leaves and stems cut at soil level is a sign that your garden has a cutworm infestation. These annoying pests are the larval stage of moths and feed on various species of plants. They are most active at night and can cause substantial damage to your garden, requiring chemical control. Sevin dust is one chemical option for cutworm control that -- if used properly -- will safely and effectively manage the infestation.
Sevin dust is a registered pesticide marketed by GardenTech Company. It is available in a shaker-style bottle that allows for easier application around your garden and landscape. Sevin contains the active ingredient carbaryl, which is a carbamate insecticide that is available for outdoor use only. Carbaryl is a double-duty pesticide, acting as a contact and stomach poison. Whether the pest crawls through the chemical or consumes it, carbaryl will attack the insect’s nervous system, causing death.
The dull brown, smoothed-skinned cutworms measure about 1 to 2 inches long and -- when disturbed -- will curl into a C-shape. The various markings covering their bodies allow these caterpillars to easily blend into the soil. They are most active at night and feed on leaves and blossoms of crops and ornamental plants. Their chewing creates holes in leaves, fruit and vegetables, and may snip seedlings near soil level. Cutworms are typically a problem in the spring, according to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program and can be controlled with manual, cultural and chemical methods.
Sevin dust can be applied to gardens and flowerbeds during a calm day to control cutworms. The North Dakota State University Cass County Extension recommends sprinkling a 5-percent solution of Sevin dust on the surface of the soil at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. To protect yourself from the pesticide, wear chemical-resistant rubber gloves, long-sleeve shirt, long pants and a dust mask. Furthermore, keep children and pets out of the treated area until the dust has settled.
Pesticides containing carbaryl are toxic to humans, aquatic invertebrates, beneficial insects and shellfish. Immediately rinse with cool water for 15 to 20 minutes if the dust insecticide comes in contact with skin. If swallowed, contact poison control immediately and don’t induce vomiting unless otherwise advised by the poison control center. Store unused Sevin dust in its original container out of direct sunlight in a location where it won’t be disturbed. For best results, follow the instructions printed on the Sevin dust label.