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Small white worms inside tomatoes

by Alina

Q. Last year we had small white fattish worms inside our tomatoes. The year before, it happened to the eggplants. The fruit looks perfect, except for one small hole somewhere around the stem. So if you don't look carefully, you don't know there's something wrong with it. The plants also look perfect. We don't want that to happen this year so we were wondering if we can do something before the tomatoes grow. They are flowering and have small green fruit now. Thank you.

A. Sounds like tomato fruit worms. They attack 15 other cultivated hosts in addition to the tomato, including corn, cotton, eggplant, okra, peppers, soybeans, and tobacco.

You can take these precautions against tomato fruit worms.

  • Apply Bt: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a microbial biological control, is considered to be very effective on fruitworms. (Get it here as Bonide Bt Thuricide 8 oz.) Bt doesn't harm a majority of beneficial insects. It’s available in liquid, powder, and granules. Follow manufacturer’s directions for application. Treat plants with Bt in the afternoon or evening, since it breaks down in UV light. Apply Bt at the first sign of worm eggs. Once the pests hatch and ingest the chemical, they are paralyzed, unable to eat, and die.
  • Avoid planting corn near tomatoes, since corn is one of the most common fruit worm hosts.
  • Apply oils. Use neem oil or insecticidal soap once a week and after rain.
  • Apply other controls. Treat plants with Spinosadicon, a natural, broad-spectrum insecticide made from soil microbes. Or treat plants with the insecticide Sevin every 5-7 days when fruit begins to set (worms are untouchable once they get inside tomatoes).
  • Till soil after harvest to destroy pupae.

Read about more ways to prevent a tomato fruit worm infestation in your crop.

Good luck and happy gardening!
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