Egg laying Moths

sprager(Z5 KCMO)January 15, 2006

Last year I started several varieties of tomatoes from seed. I started them too early but they all produced a Lot of tomatos but I threw 99% out.

I searched the internet last summer when I first started seing this happen. Although I couldn't find a picture of the exact worm I did find that it is not uncommon for moths to lay eggs on tomatos and when the larva hatches they some how get through the skin of the tomato. I looked in several holes in my beautiful tomatoes 1/4 to 1/8 inch deep to see squiggling green worms,hence me throwing out all that had holes in them. I believe this had something to do with me starting them too early and we had a very cool spring. I gave away a lot of plants and as far as I know everyone I gave plants to had the same problem. I started the plants in my basement not to far away from a package of bone meal( bone meal when left to sit without an airtight container always breeds moths), could this be how my problem started?

I don't know but I threw away bushels of beutiful tomatos last year. I believe this is something I somehow caused?

Any answers or questions greatly appreciated.

Tia Fred

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torquill(z9/sunset15 CA)

You didn't cause it, Tia. There are a couple of possible pests; tomato fruitworms don't come from pantry moths, but from a larger moth (which I seem to recall is nocturnal... the picture of the adults looks familiar). They're all over the place, and they were in the area before you planted your tomatoes. If there have been cornfields anywhere near where you are, they would have migrated from there, as they are the same pest as the corn earworm.

Another possibility is tomato pinworm, which come from a different, smaller moth. They drill small holes and burrow deeper into the fruit than the fruitworm, which makes messy furrows around the stem.

You can foil either one by spraying with a natural bacteria, Bacillus thuriengensis, commonly known as Bt. It's available in most hardware stores and nurseries. A light coating of Bt on the surface of the fruit will kill any caterpillars, as they eat it and get a case of terminal bellyache. It's totally harmless to humans and animals.

I hope that helps.

--Alison

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 12:05AM
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sprager(Z5 KCMO)

Alison
The larva kooked like tomato fruitworms. I just find it odd that I have grown tomato's for years in the same spot and never had these. My next door neighbor grew tomato's less than 100 yards away and didn't have them. I just can't help believing I some how introduced these things to my seedlings.
At any rate I will get some BT Thanks for the info Fred

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 7:46AM
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torquill(z9/sunset15 CA)

I haven't been gardening long, but there was one year I had definite problems with the corn earworm and some problems with it in tomatoes. The next year, maybe 25 feet away, I had none. That isn't so far away that they wouldn't be able to find the plants, but I didn't have a single one.

It depends on the weather, the prevailing winds, what others are growing around you, etc. etc. It also depends on the predators you have around... the year I had a paper wasp nest thirty feet from the garden, I didn't have any hornworms at all until very late in the season, because every time I started to see damage the wasps got to the hornworm before I did. It may be that you had some protectors out there which were absent this season.

--Alison

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 6:08PM
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sprager(Z5 KCMO)

Alison
I have an old pickup bed tool box with a wasp nest inside, that I have ben meaning to haul away,nest and all. I havn't disturbed the nest yet,just opened the lid and peeked in.
This is a no brainer question so I won't ask it. I will drag the tool box over by my composted tomato garden. Just another excuse to procrastinate getting rid of it Thanks Fred

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 7:40PM
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