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Vegetable Gardening: Little Green Caterpillars Eating Tomatos

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fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 28, 2012
7:53 PM

Post #9101924

What can I use on my tomatos(please don't say hand pick) to get rid of these?? They were looking so good too but it seems these last few days the tomatos are getting holes in them...boo hoo help...
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 28, 2012
8:16 PM

Post #9101954

I've discoverd they are called tomato fruitworms.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

April 28, 2012
10:06 PM

Post #9102040

Sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), Spinosad (an organic insecticide), or Neem Oil. All are best applied before they get inside the fruit. Other controls include certain parasitic asps and even sprayable parasitic nematodes.

Amazing what a little Google search will bring up:

http://www.avrdc.org/LC/tomato/fruitworm.html
http://ipm.ncsu.edu/ag295/html/tomato_fruitworms.htm
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r783300111.html
http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/tomato-fruitworm/

-Rich
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 29, 2012
7:47 AM

Post #9102358

Thank you rjogden. I was hoping maybe someone had a home remedy like pepper spray or I've heard something about Murphys oil soap????

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 29, 2012
10:56 AM

Post #9102574

fancyflea - Over the past 60 years I've hand picked/squished every insect/bug/slug/snail you can think of and lived to tell about it! Once you get over the ICK factor, you'll be fine. Just close your eyes and do it!
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 1, 2012
12:59 PM

Post #9105887

fancyflea wrote:Thank you rjogden. I was hoping maybe someone had a home remedy like pepper spray or I've heard something about Murphys oil soap????

I'm confused. Are you making your own Murphy's Oil Soap?

Seriously, I've never heard of anything homemade that helps, except for squashing the worms (which has already been suggested) or knocking them into a can holding a little kerosene or some other liquid to suffocate them. If you do try pepper or soap, let us know if it works for you.

I was once in a similar situation, only I had an invasion of armyworms that were devouring a lawn. I was renting and didn't feel like investing a lot of money (and as a student, I didn't have any money to spare). I gathered a few dozen of the pests and put them in a blender with water and liquified them. I strained the liquid through an old t-shirt and added enough liquid soap (Dr, Bronners, IIRC) to make the solution slippery. I put it in a sprayer and applied it directly to the whole area of the infestation. Two days later, I could not find a living armyworm.

-Rich
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 1, 2012
2:32 PM

Post #9106031

No I'm not making my own murphys oil soap. I do pick off what I see although I have not been able to find very many. I got some organic spray which I am using. It seems to help. I need to spay it once a week so I will see if this works. It was pricey so that was the reason I was hoping for some homemade solution.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 1, 2012
10:13 PM

Post #9106617

There is a homemade recipe that has Murphys Oil Soap in it. Are you looking for homemade or Organic? With tomato fruit worms I really recommend just picking them off. There usually aren't a huge number of them like with Armyworms. Picking them of and using the spray should take care of the problem.

Where is Wharton?
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 2, 2012
6:04 AM

Post #9106878

Organic remedy as these are tomatos. Wharton is about one hour west of Houston.
cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX
(Zone 7b)

May 2, 2012
7:53 AM

Post #9107018

I've been using DE to keep the cut worms at bay. After some reading, I've found you an apply it as a spray, it'll dry and leave a protective layer. I'm just trying this for the first time as a spray, wish I could tell you for certain that it works on fruit worms. Thought I would 'toss it out there' as another organic option.

Food grade DE is much cheaper at feed stores then organic specialty shops.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 2, 2012
7:56 AM

Post #9107022

The DE is a great idea IMHO. Homemade doesnt equal organic. lol
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 2, 2012
12:30 PM

Post #9107380

What is DE?
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 2, 2012
1:26 PM

Post #9107440

fancyflea wrote:What is DE?

Diatomaceous earth
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 2, 2012
1:34 PM

Post #9107454

fancyflea wrote:No I'm not making my own murphys oil soap. I do pick off what I see although I have not been able to find very many. I got some organic spray which I am using. It seems to help. I need to spay it once a week so I will see if this works. It was pricey so that was the reason I was hoping for some homemade solution.

Sorry, the Murphy's reference was definitely tongue-in-cheek. I should have made that clear.

If cost is a major issue, I would seriously recommend trying the blender-bug recipe. If there is ANY caterpillar pathogen on ANY of the worms, the result is that it then infects ALL of them - and you can't beat the price. If you don't want to spurge on Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Oil Soap (an excellent insecticide in itself), you can try throwing a little slice of hypoallergenic bar soap in the blender. Do this AFTER you have strained the bug juice, rinsed the blender and put the bug juice back in, and watch that it doesn't all turn to foam.

-Rich
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 2, 2012
4:31 PM

Post #9107648

Cocoa ~ I'm using DE but with a puffer applicator. Do you dilute with anything else?
I'd always heard when rained on or watered, DE needs to be reapplied.
Just curious... Kristi
cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX
(Zone 7b)

May 3, 2012
6:42 AM

Post #9108307

Sorry, Fancyflea. Here is an article on Diatomaceous earth. http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Diatomaceous-Earth_vq21.htm
Tho, I really like Rjogden idea. I'll be looking for a garage sale blender. I may to have help with the juice making, I don't think I can stomach it on my own.lol


Kristi, take a look at the same link. I've thought the same thing, about needing to be dry to work. I've just started to apply it wet with my hose end sprayer. But, I had already been treating with dry DE. Hard for me to say that the wet is working, yet. Give me some time and I'll give an update :0)

bariolio

bariolio
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 3, 2012
10:32 AM

Post #9108749

Hey, Fancyflea, I'm totally with ya on the gross out squishing bugs! I wear nitrile gloves and have a pair of cheap scissors. Snip them!

I just googled "homemade caterpillar spray" and got some neat sites:

http://www.angelfire.com/ri/ixia/Insect.html
http://www.annettemcfarlane.com/Doityourself.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2607562.htm
http://www.cdcg.org/pests.html

and more... Now I just have to read some of this and maybe do some experimenting. Luckily, I don't have any little kids around to get into things like pepper spray!
Janet
fancyflea
Wharton, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 3, 2012
2:54 PM

Post #9109084

Thank you so much bariolio...I especially like the chili pepper one. Plenty of cheap chili peppers around here. I put those sites in my favorites so I feel ready now.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 8, 2012
2:17 PM

Post #9116066

bariolio wrote:http://www.angelfire.com/ri/ixia/Insect.html

I wish just once someone recommending pepper spray would quote a scientific study or at least indicate a scientific approach from which they drew their conclusions. Just because it repels US doesn't mean it works on insect pests. Mammals seem to be put off by hot pepper. I've had squirrels stop frequenting an area after applying hot pepper spray liberally (enough to irritate my own eyes when I got close). Birds OTOH would eat the same peppers right off the plant - they don't have the necessary nerve receptors to detect the capsaicin, and I have never seen one adversely affected. Saying it will "kill caterpillars" without naming the caterpillars or citing a study or giving ANY other details just sounds like the same old wishful thinking repeatedly endlessly in the common media.

-Rich (BSA & MS in Horticulture)

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