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Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

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Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/17/2010, 10:12 am

Some pest is ruining my tomatoes, munching holes in them, causing them to fall off the vines.



The only thing I could see were these tiny white furry bugs.



I mixed up some soap and neem oil and sprayed everything. Is there anything else to look for/do?

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Fruitworms?

Post  ander217 on 7/17/2010, 11:52 am

Your damage looks similar to what the tomato fruitworms did to my tomatoes earlier in the year. At first I saw slender, inch-long green and brown striped worms on my plants. I picked off all I saw, but I missed a few. I saw larger and larger ones as the season went on, and then I started seeing tomatoes with holes in them similar to yours. One day I picked a large yellow tomato which looked perfect on top, but when I turned it over there was a HUGE fruitworm that had eaten halfway into the fruit. It was as large as a full-sized tomato hornworm.

This same borer pest gets into ears of corn and is called the corn earworm, and gets into cotton bolls and is called a bollworm.

See an image similar to your photo at
www.ent.uga.edu/veg/solanaceous/tomfruitworms.htm

The other thought I had is maybe birds were pecking at the furry white bugs, and damaged the tomatoes in the process.


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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/17/2010, 12:20 pm

Hmm. I haven't seen either birds or catapillars, but I remember those dratted corn borers from my childhood, and there is corn planted in the same bed. Will Neem do the trick, you think?

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Neem?

Post  ander217 on 7/17/2010, 7:59 pm

I still haven't tried Neem because I'm afraid I'll hurt our bees. But I think several others on the forum use it, maybe they can answer your question.

Good luck.
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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  Megan on 7/17/2010, 8:06 pm

We are using Neem oil... carefully... and still have plenty of bees.
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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/17/2010, 8:12 pm

I haven't seen a single honeybee in my SFG. Bumblebees or carpenter bees have been doing the polinating, though. I try to use Neem early in the morning, and not on blossoms if I can avoid it.

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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  sceleste54 on 7/17/2010, 11:01 pm

Spray everything with BT.. it will get the caterpillers !! I kept finding caterpiller droppings among my tomatos and didn't see the critters. I did a spray and the next day the hornworms were obvious. Once they eat the BT they start to darken in color and you can see them easily. Spray until the fruit is drenched. Won't hurt the bees or you..Smile

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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 7/21/2010, 4:18 pm

Earwigs!! Horrible, gross, disgusting earwigs eating my beatiful tomatoes! I had sprayed with Neem, no luck finding BT, but I went out this morning and found a green one fallen, with a hole in it and an earwig burrowed in. Next trying insecticide soap. Grrr..

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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

Post  auntij on 7/21/2010, 7:14 pm

Is BT different from diatomaceous earth? Because that has been a god send for earwigs here! They had eaten almost everything then we powdered a few times and brought everything to a manageable level.

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Opportunistic earwig?

Post  junequilt on 7/21/2010, 7:18 pm

That earwig might be an opportunist rather than the actual culprit making the hole. They're actually beneficial because they eat critters we don't want in our gardens, but in large numbers they can cause plant damage.

You can use the same beer saucer traps for earwigs as for slugs. You can also roll up a dampened piece of newspaper and lay it on the ground overnight. Earwigs love dark and damp, so they will gravitate to the newspaper. In the morning, just put the newspaper in a securely-fastened plastic bag and throw it away, or you can burn it. (They creep me out, so I'd probably pick up the paper with a pair of tongs!)
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BT v. diatomaceous earth

Post  junequilt on 7/21/2010, 7:21 pm

Nope, BT is a bacteria. Diatomaceous earth is a powder comprised of fossilized single-cell creatures. I'm glad to know it works on earwigs! It sure does a number on flea beetles.
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Re: Help! What's eating my tomatoes?

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