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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Tomato Fruitworm Toplef10Tomato Fruitworm 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Tomato Fruitworm I22gcj10Tomato Fruitworm 14dhcg10

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Tomato Fruitworm

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Post  OhioGardener 10/1/2023, 2:32 pm

Been farming & gardening for some six decades, and for the first time ever we have been plagued by a pest that has never bothered us before: the Tomato Fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea), also called Corn Earworm. And, a very destructive pest it is.  It starts by eating the leaves of the plant, then it burrows into a green tomato and spends its entire larva stage eating the inside of the tomato fruit. Since it stays totally inside the fruit, and all of its frass is contained there as well, it is very difficult to inspect the tomatoes to determine if there is a hole where the damage started, until the tomato starts rotting.

Fortunately, after some research, I discovered that I can stop the larva from entering the tomatoes by spraying the plants every 4 days with Bt. With that spraying schedule, as soon as the eggs hatch on the tomato leaves the larva are paralyzed, unable to eat, and die.  Unfortunately, I lost quite a few tomatoes before I discovered the reason for them rotting on the vine, and began a spraying schedule.

I wonder if the reason we have had these pests for the first time ever is because of all of the fields surrounding us this year have been planted with corn? All of the corn now is GMO, with the Bt implanted in the genetics, making them immune to the corn earworm. Perhaps the moth has had to seek out tomatoes for survival?

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Post  sanderson 10/1/2023, 4:39 pm

Oh, man.  Probably coming to my neighborhood soon. very sad

This year I got tobacco hornworms and the 5-lined sphinx moth that I thought was a tomato hornworm, but was wrong.Tomato Fruitworm Pest_h10

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Post  sanderson 1/11/2024, 2:36 pm

OG,  Does it look like this?  A Zone 9 gardener posted a photo this morning of a larva half in a tomato.  (Yes, some hot zones are still growing tomatoes.  Shocked  Tomato Fruitworm Pest_t10

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Post  OhioGardener 1/11/2024, 3:23 pm

sanderson wrote:OG,  Does it look like this?  A Zone 9 gardener posted a photo this morning of a larva half in a tomato.  (Yes, some hot zones are still growing tomatoes.  Shocked 

Yes, it does look much like that!  The one I found inside a tomato had a lighter color, but the same markings. Here is a good document on them:

https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/common-pest-problems/common-pest-problem-new/Tomato%20Fruitworm.pdf

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Post  sanderson 1/13/2024, 3:43 pm

Small buff moth. Shocked  Rather generic description. I always wonder about daytime moths and what plant they are seeking out for destruction.

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