Help! Something is chopping down my seedlings

Chopped pepper seedling

Chopped pepper seedling

Ok, I need some help with a quick diagnostic here.  Something is chopping down my pepper seedlings.  The plants, as you can see, are chopped off at the base.  These seedlings are indoors under the grow lights.  The plants did have one quick trip out to the greenhouse to be repotted, but otherwise they are indoors.  I looked all around the tray of seedlings and did not see any insects.  Also, I believe the munching is happening at night.  Any ideas?

Update:  The general diagnotic consensus was cutworm.  That was my first thought as well, but it didn’t occur to me that I could have a problem with them inside.  I repotted everything and last night there was no new damage, so hopefully I’ve taken care of the problem.


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8 Responses to Help! Something is chopping down my seedlings

  1. Dan says:

    That is a bit of a puzzler. Being that they are indoors the only thing I could think of is damping off but that is usually only an issue with seedlings.

  2. Daphne says:

    The only thing that has ever cut down seedlings like that is cutworms. My mom had them in her greenhouse one year. I can’t imagine they would get into the house though. They do work at night. Have you checked in the soil of the most recently cut seedling? If one got on, it could go from pot to pot of they touched. It really seems an unlikely thing though. Hmm I remember that I’ve had birds do that too, but really not in the house.

  3. DoubleD says:

    It definitely looks like cut worm damage. They will be in the soil close to the base of the plant – just scratch around near the stem. If you find it is cutworms, you can put some cardboard collars around the base of the plant pushed down into the soil and that will protect the stem from attack. I used to have cut worms when I was in central Washington in my regular garden area – never have had them in the greenhouse – but I guess there is no reason why they could not infest that area and cause the same problems.

  4. OK, I repotted every single one of them — and didn’t see a single worm or bug in the process. Hmm . . .

  5. sinfonian2 says:

    My thought is a cat. Indoor cutworms that live near the base of the bed or food bowl.

    Seriously, I have no idea other than cutworms, sorry and I hope the repotting helps them survive!

  6. There are indoor cutworms?!? Yuck. No cats in our house. Hopefully, the repotting will take care of it.

  7. Pingback: Under the grow lights: The summer crops emerge « The Zero Fossil Fuel 10 Year Challenge

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