Small green worms in tomato plant soil

JimR36(5b CO)April 4, 2012

I'm curious if anyone has familiarity with what I encountered this morning. With heavy rains this morning, I moved my containered plants close to the house, under cover (to keep them from being waterlogged). I noticed small green worms on top of the soil of the tomato plants. They were only about 1/4" or so long, and pale green. There was very little detail to them, other than a slightly darker "front end", where the head is, and a fairly straight body. I didn't notice them in any of the other containered plants. They crawled in a plain manner (no looping, etc.)

I'm guessing that they have been there for maybe awhile, but the rains drew them to the surface. Anyone have any ideas of what they might be? Thanks.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Jim, just wanted you to know that you are not being ignored; we simply don't know the identity of your little animal. If they are still hanging around and you are able to get a good picture of them, someone might be able to help you.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:46AM
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JimR36(5b CO)

Thanks. I think I might know what the were (or are, i.e. not sure if they went back below the surface and are still in the soil). After searching on the internet and doing research, I think they might have been fly larva (yuck). In order to keep the tomatoes fed of rich nutrients, I used some compost that included bat dung (ha ha). It had a great balance of nutrients, including nitrogen, but that was a distinguishing factor from the other plants/soil. I think the rains interacted with the soil and compost in maybe a different way than tap water, and that brought them to the surface.

Anyway, I put one in a jar, and it produced a red-brown pupa, which I'm going to keep an eye to what comes out. I'll probably just stop using that particular compost, or bury it further in the future (instead of leaving on the top of the soil, and exposed). I added more mulch to the top of the soil of these tomato plants, and that might smother or make it hard for the worms to come back up.

Thanks again for the note. I'll try to post a follow-up when I see what the beastie is.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 12:23PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

You said: "it produced a red-brown pupa"

If so, it's a caterpillar. The adult will be a moth.

any chance of pictures of the worms & pupa?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 3:25PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You're thinking it might be soldier fly larvae, Jim? Do a google of pupae and maggots (larvae) of the Soldier Fly and see if it's a match. Doesn't really fit your verbal description, but who knows?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The larva of the Black Soldier Fly are usually a dirty yellowish white to dark brown. I've not seen any described as greenish. As with the larva of most other insects they need a fairly moist environment to hatch and grow. Allow the growing medium to dry out more and that is usually enough to eliminate them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Black soldier Flies

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 7:03AM
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JimR36(5b CO)

I'm mostly familiar with moth larvae, so this is a different search for me (the pupa looks too small in my opinion to be a moth pupa). I'll have to redo the Google search to see where I got the data, but I did find a very close match in pictures, to what I saw. Again, it was a reddish-brown color, and quite small (1/8" or so). Probably not a soldier fly (I think I'd remember it, if it was that).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 4:07PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Got pictures? Puhleeeeze!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 12:41AM
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JimR36(5b CO)

I have a picture, but am not sure how to post it here. I've got to say - I like sites like Bugguide.net because they make it so easy.

Looking at the picture again, the red is slightly orangeish, and there are slightly darker bands going perpendicular to the length of the pupu (around the circumference). Also, the actual specimen has vanished! It must have gotten free through the tiny holes in the top of the jar.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 3:55PM
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