This year we have noticed much more life on the farm….that means more beneficials and more pests as well. Unfortunately, the pests have won out on the war over the tomatoes. I recently went into the hoop house to do some tomato maintenance (trellising and pinching the suckers), and noticed holes in many of the leaves. On closer inspection, I saw several small worms on the leaves and learned the culprit is the tomato fruitworm. The following is from the OSU Extension Fact Sheet:
Tomato Fruitworm—This caterpillar varies in color from green, pink, red, yellow, or brown and causes severe damage
by boring directly into fruit. Each worm will feed on several tomatoes and generally will feed on the smaller fruit first.
They do not eat all the fruit but usually leave it in an unsuitable state. Fruitworms can reach up to one and one half
inches in length when full grown. Adult moths lay tiny, white, dome-shaped eggs at night on leaves. Control can best
be achieved with sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis based insecticides soon after eggs are detected. Control must be
achieved before larvae penetrate fruit and before they get large (greater than one fourth inch long).
So, I think our plan is to salvage what we can, pull out and destroy the infected plants. This site offers a good overview of tomato fruitworms and measure to prevent them.