Worms-GRRRRRRRRR

elkwc(6b)July 24, 2010

This old dog is too old too learn new tricks. I've never in all my years of growing tomatoes had trouble with worms boring into the green fruit around the stem. I've read where others do but not here in my garden. Last night had some Black Krims and a CP fall off because they had rotted where they had bored in. Tonight found 3 of my Royal Hillbilly fruit bored into. It seems to be in one area of the garden. Would of sprayed them with BT but a storm in threatening. So will have to wait at least until tomorrow. First the hornworms and now the little worms boring into my fruit. Along with the insect vectored disease I feel I've had my share. Was getting excited at the set on that Royal Hillbilly plant. Now in one evening it is half of what it was. Have some other disease problems showing up but nothing major. Noticed a little Septoria today. But won't matter if the worms keep munching on my maters. Jay

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soonergrandmom

Jay, I found a green tomato under one of my plants the other day and wondered how I had knocked it off. When I picked it up, it had a green worm in it and it had cut around the stem until the tomato broke from the vine. Very early in the season, I found another worm about that size where I had missing foliage.

I saw what looked like horm worm damage on two or three plants that were right together and I searched and searched and never did find a horn worm. So I have still had no horn worms that I have seen. All of this happened about the same time the Japanese Beetles hit, so who knows what did it. Although these smaller worms are green, I don't think they are horn worms, do you?

I am sorry to hear that you are having worm problems because you seem to fight the horn worms every year, don't you?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 7:53PM
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farmgardener

The worms are bad here too - we had hornworms early but the little tiny green and black worms that bore in at the stem have damaged more than the horn worms ever did. It's so discouraging to watch a tomato ripen and pick it off to find it's rotten in the middle from a worm! It's even worse to eat a handful of cherry tomatoes straight off the plants while you are working, then take the time to look at a couple of them and find that all the ones left have worms in them (you know what that means??????). I've used BT and even resorted to Sevin a time or two but I can't seem to get rid of these tiny worms............hope someone has a better solution than I do.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:12PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Same here. I picked the last of my Early Sunglow corn today, up to 4 worms on each ear. I just got in from picking my tomatoes, which are in really bad shape, about 30% with worm damage. I may spray tomorrow.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:56PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

If the worms are tiny, they are tomato pinworms.

If they are the same size as Larry's corn earworms, then they are tomato fruitworms. (They're the same worms on corn and tomatoes but have different names when found on each plant.)

You also may see fruitworm or pinworm damage on other nightshade plants like potatoes or eggplant.

It is easier to prevent them than to get rid of them once you have them. You prevent them by consistently spraying your plants with Bt in 7 to 10-day intervals beginning almost as soon as you set out the plants in April or May. Once you already have them, Bt is still the solution, but it isn't as effective once they're firmly entrenched. Check the back of foliage for them. At one point in their life cycle you'll find them there under something that looks like spider webbing. If you don't have too many plants you can check the backs of the leaves and remove them by hand.

There probably are some synthetic chemical products that are labeled for pinworms, but I don't use them and don't know what they would be. I am sure you could find one of those products at any store that sells insecticides. Just read the label to make sure such a product is labeled for tomato pinworm control if you want to go the chemical route.

Pinworms are usually a major issue in greenhouses, but occasionally you'll see them in home gardens too. In greenhouses they are a pernicious problem and can wipe out crops. In a bad year in a greenhouse, they can damage/ruin as much as 80% of the crop.

I might see pinworms once every 5 years here, and haven't seen any 'yet'. (I am sure I just jinxed myself.) This does seem to be one of those years in which Mother Nature is throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at our plants.

I've linked a factsheet from OSU that briefly mentions pinworms. The color they describe them is for the early instars. Once they are in the tomatoes, they usually look greenish or green and black.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Tomatoes OSU Fact Sheet

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 11:54PM
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soonergrandmom

I believe mine are fruitworms.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 12:01AM
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elkwc(6b)

Dawn,
Although I didn't find any worms today. I have seen a couple on the foliage and sure they are the same. They leave a hole in the tomato about the size of regular size pencil lead. I know the couple I removed don't have horns for sure. Not sure how long they may get but the two I removed was probably around a 1/4' in length or just a tad longer. The rain drove me inside before I could look much or spray. It would of washed it off anyway. Got 8 tenths today. Thankful for that and hope more is on the way. My sister didn't get anything. What a change in the rain pattern. They must be hungry little critters. I will give the plants in the area where I'm having problems a good scan tomorrow. Will do a search for them and see what I can learn. Thanks for all the info.

Yes Carol I've had my bouts with the horn worms about 3 times already. I would rather have them now. On the big plants I could probably spot and remove them before they hurt one too bad. These little critters are ruining every one they touch. Jay

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 12:15AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

I had a few tomato pin worms this year, some fruit worms, birds got a couple of my tomatoes, and yesterday I found my first grasshopper and it had eaten half of a cherry tomato! Thankfully no horn worms yet, but everything in nature seems to find tomatoes as irresistible as we do.

I also had a few tomatoes with BER...all in all, I think I lose about 10% of my tomatoes because they have some kind of worm hole or major spot on them. Yuck.

Jo

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:23AM
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elkwc(6b)

Found one worm this morning on one fruit on the Royal Hillbilly. It had 3 holes in it yesterday and 6 today. Then the culprit crawled out. Sent him to worm heaven and then pulled the fruit. He had ate too much for it too every have a chance. The whole stem area inside was gone. He was green with white stripes on each side running lengthwise. Jay.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 2:03PM
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klo1(z7 OK)

So that's what happening to my tomatoes! I have looked and looked for what is eating the tomatoes and foliage and haven't found anything but the damage. I'm about to give up on them for this year, I haven't gotten one big tomato at all! Just a few cherry and not many of those. Something happens every year and when you only have room for 4 tomatoes it's a big loss when this happens.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 2:58PM
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p_mac(7)

I've seen some worms too, but these aren't just on my maters. They're little skinny, light green things and I've found them crawling out of okra and green beans too, so they're in both out garden areas. They're maybe half an inch long. They also hit what few jalapeno's I had...grrrr is RIGHT!

We've been spraying with BT about every two weeks, but I guess they caught us right after a rain before DH could get out there to spray again. DANG IT!

Paula

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 7:11PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

If the "worms" (really, they are caterpillars; worms live in soil) are a dark green to black color with a light-colored stripe on each side, they are Beet Armyworms, which also attack tomatoes. Altho they can vary in coloration, this is the type that I have found on my tomatoes this year. I've had a real problem with them so I check my plants daily for damage and destroy the caterpillars as I find them. One day I picked 20 off of my Supersweet 100, which they seemed to prefer over the others. It's difficult to find them sometimes because I had a lot of leaf curl on my tomatoes starting in May, and these caterpillars like to hide out folding a leaf over. I finally just started squishing the leaf so that anything inside it would, well, meet a quick demise. They eat the foliage, the flower buds and small green tomatoes.

The chubby little green worms found in the tomatoes are, as Dawn said, fruitworms aka Corn earworms. Had those too! In fact some fruit I picked that had blushed looked undamaged until a few days later when I found the caterpillars still feeding on them at which time they were entirely noticeable.

They are definitely frustrating.

Susan

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 9:18PM
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elkwc(6b)

Susan these aren't chubby little green worms. They are skinny green worms 1/4-1/2" in length with white stripes length wise running along their sides. They bore holes the size of a pencil lead or smaller in the top and around the stem area of a tomato. These are a light green. I've had corn ear worms this year. And the ones I've had aren't colored like these. That is what I at first thought they must be. And all I've found are skinny. None are chubby. Whatever they are hopefully there is fewer of them tonight. Sprayed the worst plants with BT this afternoon. Then sprayed the rest with Safer spray. It maybe too late. Jay

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 11:20PM
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soonergrandmom

Susan, I have the green chubby ones. Jay doesn't feed his well enough. LOL

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 11:56PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Carol, you crack me up! Jay, you may be catching them in early instar of growth, when they aren't very big. I haven't found any small fruitworms - they've usually consumed enuff fruit to have bigger bellies! :) Sounds, tho, like you might have the Beet Armyworms like I've had, too. They are skinnier than the fruitworms and they do get into the fruit eventually. No comments now Carol, you onery thing! It's hard to tell without a photo; we're just guessing. BT will take care of any of the caterpillars, tho, be they Beet Armyworms, Fruitworms, Hornworms, skinny worms, or fat worms, striped or stripeless. Grrrr.....is right!

Susan

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 7:50AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Y'all need more wasps. We have wasps in every shape, color and size and they control the caterpillars for us most years. I'm not saying we don't see caterpillars occasionally, but very rarely do they manage to find and damage a tomato. I think I've had caterpillar damage to only 2 fruit this year, and both times it was tomato fruitworm. I haven't seen a pinworm in 4 or 5 years and haven't seen a hornworm or any sign of hornworm damage yet this year. I really think it is our 'bumper crop' of wasps and other beneficials. Do I like having wasps all over? Not particularly, and Tim really doesn't because they manage to find him and sting him often, but they are great beneficials to have.

It doesn't matter which cats y'all have, though, because the answer is always going to be handpicking them or finding and destroying their eggs, or Bt or predatory wasps or, actually, all of the above. As Paula noted, Bt needs to be sprayed often....on a 7 to 10 day schedule, and needs to be reapplied promptly after heavy rainfall.

I don't know if there is research to back up what I've seen here, but ever since I started using spinosad for fire ants and snails/slugs (spinosad is the second ingredient in Slug-Go Plus, with the primary ingredient being iron phosphate), I have very few caterpillar issues at all inside the veggie garden. The exception is cabbage loopers and cabbage worms. I always have plenty of them.

Dawn

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:28AM
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freedomby2012

This is my first year of gardening. I found this thread because I was searching what to do about all the different kinds of caterpillars or worms I've seen on my tomato plants. It is somewhat discouraging to see my tomatoes being enjoyed by these critters before I get a chance. I like fried green tomatoes and green salsa, but I'd also like some fully ripe ones too! I just bought some BT to start spraying. I've never used BT, but I'll try to salvage some of the green tomatoes left with it. Crossing my fingers!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 4:48PM
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slowpoke_gardener

freedom, sounds like you are headed in the right direction. I like fried green tomatoes about as well as I like ripe tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 5:47PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Good luck, freedom. Some years are that way, but not all of them are. Unfortunately, just about every critter around seems to enjoy tomatoes as much as we humans do. I haven't had worms on mine this year, but we have had a massive grasshopper outbreak here this year, and I've had trouble with the grasshoppers eating tomatoes. Seems like it is always something.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:59AM
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