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Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

Posted by ryhiggin UT (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 28, 11 at 14:59

I have a few healthy looking Tomatillo plants with good looking large husks. Now that the fruit is ripening and starting to drop I am discovering that something isn't right.

This is my first year successfully fruiting tomatillos, and really frustrating that they aren't working.

At the top of the fruit under the husk I find a little hole and directly inside is the shell from a little larva. It doesn't look like it has eaten much of the plant, just hung out inside to mature. There is no other sign of damage to the plant or fruit, but my tomatillos don't have seeds, just a bubbly looking hollow interior.

Any help is appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures found here


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

Coincidence, not cause & effect.


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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

I'd like to revive this thread, because I am having the exact same issues with half of my harvest. The purple tomatillos I'm growing at my home garden are normal, dense and full of flesh and seeds. The ones growing out at the community garden are each one as described in the original post. The flavor isn't very good either. At the very center is a tiny brown chrysalis where the critter matured.

I haven't been able to find out which critter this is, or how to deter it in the future. But this CANNOT be a coincidence.


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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

Sorry to dig up an old thread, but I lost every single tomatillo to this little bug, and am determined to find out what did it. The fruit was beautiful until you looked closely. Each fruit had a small, healed hole near the stem. When cut open the fruit was hollow without a single seed. There was usually a small cocoon or tiny dead moth inside.

99.9% of the fruit was effected and it was a big crop. It is definitely not a coincidence as suggested previously. Anyone else have trouble with this? What the heck is it? I guess I'll be dusting next year...


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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

if i had to take a stab, i'd say tomato fruitworms.


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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

We are having the same problem, tons of flowers, the husks form nicely. Some are falling off the vine and when opened we find a tiny black hole and inside a tiny worm. Our first time growing these and the two plants we have are huge and prolific with blossoms and fruit. I don't want to lose the crop to these worms. We do not spray chemicals, everything is grown in organic soil with compost mixed in the soil. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.


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RE: Tomatillo Problems - no seeds - little insect holes

Probably fruitworms. They are moth larvae. The moth, usually active at night, lays tiny eggs. The eggs are hard to see unless you catch them at just the right time, in just the right place.

When the eggs hatch the very small larvae find the fruit and burrow in. That's where the larvae stay and grow, along with the fruit. Once big enough, they sometimes travel fruit to fruit leaving a mess behind them.

I have never noticed the eggs and never noticed the larvae on leaves. I'm not sure I want to notice them. But they are hard not to see once they invade the fruit. :-)

I hate these things - they give me the creeps.

I found that spraying the plants with an insecticide for vegetables (such as Safer for vegetable gardens) every week or two has prevented this from happening.

I don't get too fancy - just spray the leaves, especially near the flowers and young fruit. I don't go crazy with getting undersides of leaves - I hit them when I can but don't bother with the ones that are too difficult to get at.

I start at the flowering stage and then spray every week or two (usually every 2 weeks because I'm forgetful).

That does a good job of keeping the fruitworms at bay. I've rarely seen a fruitworm in the last couple of years as a result.

I realize that doesn't help you now because the damage is already done, but it may help in the future.

I just grow about 10 tomato plants and find that the quart/liter bottle (no mixing required) lasts quite a while. If I run out, I just get an additional bottle. I wouldn't go crazy with stocking up and I wouldn't go crazy using a lot of product unless you have lots of plants.


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