Tomato Moth Caterpillar

27 August 2013 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

Tomato Moth CaterpillarTomato Moth CaterpillarTomato Moth Caterpillar

My tomato plants this year have been attacked by caterpillars. The first signs were small spots and markings on the leaves which I thought were caused by flea beetle. However the holes got larger and then I spied the tell tale signs of ‘frass' (caterpillar poo to you and me!) on the leaves which made me search a bit harder for the culprit. I found several caterpillars ranging in colour from brown to green all with a go-faster stripe down the sides. I diligently picked off the ones I could see and fed them to my chickens who gobbled them up with relish.

It wasn't as bad as an attack of Cabbage whites on  brassicas and I thought I'd managed to stem the tide by picking off the ones I could see, however a couple of days later I went to pick the ripening tomatoes and found several caterpillars chomping away on the fruit - this mean't war! They can have the leaves but not my tomatoes, so I removed all the affected leaves and fruit and went through the rest with a fine tooth comb removing anything that resembled a caterpillar or eggs. I went out hunting in the evening as this is when they seem to be most active and after a couple of forays I managed to eradicate them.

My fruit is ripening well and we have been picking lots of tasty ripe tomatoes. Interestingly this is the first time I have had this caterpillar and I wonder if it is widespread this year or if I have just been unlucky. Have other people experienced the little beastie this year and is it confined to the greenhouse or has it also affected outdoor grown tomatoes, I suppose outdoor varieties have at least got birds to help pick off the caterpillars so maybe it isn't quite such an obvious problem.

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