Tomato 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.