One day, you are just walking around your tomato garden and appreciating the hard labor you have done to protect and maintain it day after day. At the same time, your tomatoes are looking healthy and everything is just fine. Then you noticed something weird in the leaves as well as the fruits of your tomato plants.
These are black worms and now you need to get rid of the small black worms on tomato plants quickly. Otherwise, they can result in heavy destruction. Additionally, the destruction of these worms has a domino effect. Once it’s started, it’s going to spread until your entire tomato garden is destroyed.
Sounds sad, right? But don’t worry, there is a solution-
And today I will inform you about the 3 most widespread black worms with expert solutions, control measures, and prevention methods.
So, without further ado, read throughout the article to know how to identify and get rid of black worms on tomato plants.
Controlling Measures of Black Worms on Tomato Plants
There are several ways to control them. Here we have mentioned some of the most effective solutions provided by experts in this field. Just follow any of these you like.
1.Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)
This is a microbial biological controller that works very well against fruit worms. Use them in the afternoon or in the evening unless it will break down in daylight due to the UV sunlight.
Apply them immediately after you identify them in your tomato plant. When they get in touch with the chemical, they will definitely be paralyzed until they die.
Our Recommended Bacillus Thuringiensis Insecticide for black worms-
- Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer
- Monterey LG 6338 Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.t.) Worm & Caterpillar Killer
2.Neem Oil For Black Worms
Neem oil can kill worms in less than a day. It works as a powerful pesticide. So, Neem oil can be a significant preventive treatment for fruit worms of your tomato plants. You can also prepare it at home.
How to prepare neem oil insecticide?
- Add 6 tablespoons of neem oil with 2 gallons of water.
- Spray the solution on the tomato plants.
You can also buy ready to use neem oil that can be applied directly to the plants without any delay. The recommend Neem oil is Garden Safe HG-93179 Neem Oil Extract Concentrate.
One thing to remember, never spray the solution in full sun because the excess sunlight and temperature can burn the plant. Evening and afternoon is a suitable time to apply neem oil or any other pesticides.
3.Other Popular Pesticides
There are several popular and very effective pesticides for tomatoes available on the market specially made for preventing tomato fruit worms. These come with a ready to use formula.
We have also tested some of them and got a wonderful result. According to our research, we found the pyrethrin and spinosad containing insecticides are more effective than others to kill tomato worms.
- Garden Safe Brand Multi-Purpose Garden Insect Killer, Ready-to-Use
- Monterey LG 6133 Garden Insect Spray Ready to Use Insecticide
Garden dust is the powdered pesticide and it is most effective to get rid of worms on tomatoes, roses, eggplants, and some other vegetables and flowers. There are lots of brands that have been producing garden dust today. Here is the most recommended garden dust for tomato worms-
Diatomaceous Earth is the one kind of sand that acts as a worm killer and to kill the worms, it contains Crystalline Silica as an active ingredient. It works as a contact insecticide that means when the worms come in contact with it. The outer coat will be disrupted and the worms will die.
To kill the black worms on tomato plants- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth(our pick: Safer Brand 51704 Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth) on the foliage of the tomato plants.
Insecticidal soap contains long-chain fatty acids that can kill soft-bodied insects like worms. It also works only when the insects come in contact with the insecticidal solution.
You may pick Ready to Use(RTU) insecticidal spray or prepare a soapy spray solution at home. Here is the RTU insecticidal soap to kill tomato black worms- Safer Brand 5118-6 Insect Killing Soap Concentrate.
If you want to prepare insecticidal soap spray, here is the recipe for you-
- Mix 1 cup of liquid soap or Castile soap into a gallon of warm water.
- Add a few drops of vegetable oil or neem oil to prevent foaming.
- Pour the solution into a sprayer and spray on plant foliage.
Firstly, you may want to choose an option using helpful insects such as ladybugs, lacewing, and minute pirate bugs. These insects are literally the first line of biological defense against worms or pests of all types. Because these insects feed on armyworms.
Secondly, there are also the Trichogramma wasps that can completely eat up newly laid armyworm eggs.
Thirdly, you can attract birds which are natural predators of worms and pests like the armyworm.
Additionally, there are also nematodes that are tiny soil creatures. They will feed on eggs, pupae, as well as larvae of the armyworms.
You can get this biological defender from Amazon:
According to the research by the University of Florida, light traps for adult moths can be very effective in the garden for additional prevention. The worms of tomatoes are attracted to the light and then captured by the trap, restricting them from laying further eggs and thus help to reduce worms.
This one is totally a microbial biological control against those pinworms. There are parasites that can undoubtedly be effective in eliminating those pinworms such as the Sympiesis stigmatipennis, and the Parahormius pallidipes.
Keep the grassy weeds under management to avoid attracting egg-laying adult worms. Avoid planting susceptible tomato plants in low wet areas, because that attracts the adult worms and caterpillars.
How to Prevent Worms on Tomato Plants?
It’s a no-brainer that preventing worms is much favorable than the real fighting when they are already affecting your tomatoes. If you can take particular precautionary steps, you can surely save yourself from various stresses. Also, you can save a lot of money or resources too. So how do you really prevent the numerous types of black worms from your tomato gardens?
- Try to avoid planting tomato plants close to corn as the latter are alike highly susceptible to worms.
- Always look for the eggs. Investigate your plants on a regular basis for hints of them. Indeed peek on the tomato leaves. As soon as you find them, destroy them instantly.
- Use the pests’ predators. There are certainly a lot of them that can be purchased too.
- Eliminate infected plants.
- Eliminate fruit or plant residues.
- Till the soil after harvesting to demolish worms pupae.
- If you are going to buy then only buy healthy fresh transplants.
- The most effective way to prevent worms on tomato plants is to apply insecticide 10-15 days interval.
Identifying The Black Worms On Your Tomato Plants
There are numerous types of pests that tomato plants are fighting each and every day. Black worms are one of them. These are divided into sub-categories into-
- Tomato Fruitworms
- Tomato Pinworms
- Tomato Armyworms
Few of them are directly black and others are a mixture of colors.
Tomato fruitworms (Helicoverpa zea) are often known as corn earworms or cotton bollworms. These have black spots, sometimes pale stripes, and hairy skin. At the same time, their color ranges from cream, reddish, yellow, brown, and green. Plus, they can grow a maximum of 2 inches in length.
When they are at the egg phase and about the length of a pinhead, they look white or cream-colored. Also, they are little flat, round in shape, and will further grow into brown or little reddish stripes before hatching.
Further, as they enter into the larva phase, they redevelop like a caterpillar. They are undoubtedly light-colored with either brown or dark-colored heads and dark hairs. They feed on tomato leaves and fruits. After this phase, the pupa phase begins where they look brown in color.
Then eventually comes the adult phase. In this last phase, they evolve tan or brown-colored moths with a single dark or black spot in the middle of each of their divisions. Furthermore, they arrive during springtime and will certainly lay eggs on tomato leaves. From there, the cycle repeats again and again itself.
Tomato fruit worms in their larva phase look like green tomatoes a lot! What they do is enter a tomato throughout the stem edge. However, they will complete growing into the tomato unless it’s too small to feed them. When these pests are in the adult phase, they will lay eggs into the fruit during night time.
These tomato pinworms (Keiferia lycopersicella) are usually found in warm places.
At the eggs phase, these pinworms are very tiny and elliptical in shape. Also, their color is diverse from light yellow to orange. They are usually deposited in little groups of around 3 to 10 on both the upper and lower surfaces of leaves.
As soon as they enter into their larva phase, they turn into yellowish-grey with brown heads. In this phase, they grow about 1/3 inches in length. After a few days, their color turns into mottled orange-brown and further into purplish black.
Now comes the pupa phase where they grow 1/5 inches more in length and turn from green color to brown. Then finally comes the adult phase where they change into small greyish moths with wings of about 0.5 inches in length.
larvae drive into leaves through making blotch-type holes on leaves. Then they feed on the tomato leaves. The larvae can also enter into the tomato fruit through calyx and meanwhile create dry burrows. Also, mature larvae will drop down to the soil on a silk thread. Around four to five generations of pinworms can be generated in just a year.
These pests have got their odd name because of their character to travel in small insect armies.
There are several types of armyworms. Yet, each has its own strategy of destroying tomato plants as well as many other crops in common. There are precisely three types of armyworms:
Western Yellow striped Armyworm: It has sharp yellow stripes down its every side. At the same time, females of this type of armyworm lay eggs coated by a cottony-type substance.
Yellow striped Armyworm: It has 2 big yellow stripes and many smaller ones as well.
Beet Armyworm: It is pale green-colored and has light-colored lines throughout its whole body. At the same time, females of this type of armyworm lay eggs wrapped by hair-like scales.
Eggs of these worms are laid on leaves of aged tomato plants. Also, remember that they have visible stripes throughout their whole body when they are at their late larva phase. They evolve mottled moths with grey color as soon as they enter the adult stage. They will further have wings that reach about 1 to 1.5 inches in length. Also, each forewing has a little white spot in the middle. Plus, the back wings have dark lines.
Remember that larvae of these worms stay on the surface of the soil at first as long as they are able to go up and feed on tomato leaves or fruits. They literally create shallow gouges in the tomato fruits. Also, they turn the leaves into lace.
Black worms on tomato plants aren’t just fruit worms, pinworms, or armyworms. Undoubtedly, there are lots of more black worms out there or fatal worms in general. Also, pests aren’t just in the form of worms. You know, growing tomatoes or other fruits or vegetables is certainly hard for the challenges that you can experience. However, don’t ever be disappointed because every trouble always comes with a solution.
Black worms on your tomato plants are certainly a headache, but as what this article has just taught, they can be terminated. You can select from all the solutions that are shared above. Happy Gardening!