little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Thu, May 19, 2005 - 10:34 AM by freckly

Hi :)


there are these small, bright green inch-worm-looking worms eating everything in my garden from basil to cannas. they are eating even the poisonous tomato plant leaves and green tomatos! what can i do and fast....before everything is gone.

I'm gettin' mad.

all my hard work is being eaten.... and not by me and my hubby.

Thanks for your help. :)

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Empress Thu, May 19, 2005 - 9:34 PM by Empress

og my goodness.
i hope someone comes up with an answer soon?
praying for you and your garden!!

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Fri, May 20, 2005 - 12:17 PM by Unsubsc...

Wow - I was going to say I think inchworms are harmless, but then I googled on them. They mainly cause problems for trees.

This page has three organic solutions and one not-organic solution:

For cankerworms, which inchworms are:

1. Trap them
2. Oil them
3. Bt them

For Winter months, which look like inchworms:

htis also says use either bt or oil.

I recognize those moths - they are in my pantry and I hate them! So... they look like inchworms do they..


Now, I'll add that i am kindof suspicious its the inchworms eating the tomatoes? Have you seen them in action?

I have just seen my entire heirloom tomatoe crop for this year completely eradicated by EARWIGS. Earwigs also eat basil voraciously I have found, and they are hard to kill off - I've been squashing them, but they only com out at night and very early morning, so you have to go out there with a flashlight to see them eating.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Fri, May 20, 2005 - 2:12 PM by freckly

hmmm.. i've seen them in the holes and on the leaves that are eaten, but i didn't wait to see if they were actually chewing. i'll try to see if it's earwigs because i've seen a few of those around at night.

those little green worms are on every plant in my yard that has been eaten, so i was assuming they were the ones doing it. i've also seen some bright green moths around, and i'm wondering if they're related.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sat, May 21, 2005 - 10:38 AM by Unsubsc...

Ah, well if you have seen earwigs around your plants at night, then they are definitely part of your problem. Really. I promise. Go check them tonight and you'll see them munching if there is anything left. They are tricky buggers and if you try to grab them, they are very good at dropping to the ground quickly and scampering off.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sat, May 21, 2005 - 10:40 AM by Unsubsc...

By the way, it's probably both of them. And maybe others! That inchworms can be hit with bt is good news for you as an organic farmers. I don't know if bt affects earwigs, but I do know that the squeezy fingers of death works.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Sat, May 21, 2005 - 11:26 AM by freckly

more worms and more devestation this morning :(

all of my tomatoes are holey now, and this morning i actually saw the worms eating the tomatoes. the worms are bright green with a a little off-white stripe down the side. the worms are about 1/2 inch long and not fat, though they should be after eating my plants!

a very large one had the nerve to make a cocoon right on my tomato plant.

so, i really gotta do something, or i'll have no tomatoes or herbs. i'm going to try to find a picture on line... maybe someone in Texas is also having this problem right now. we've had little rain this year, and usually, East Texas is a thicket, very humid like a rain forest.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Sat, May 21, 2005 - 11:36 AM by freckly

ah ha! this is the lil bugger i think

the low humidity seems to be the reason they are thriving since a fungus is their nemesis.

now.. to find an organic remedy

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sat, May 21, 2005 - 7:22 PM by Unsubsc...

Ok, but your links show two different insects:

Plathypena scabra = green clover worm - looks like inchworm

Hyperapunctata Fabricius = clover leaf weevil - does not look like inchworm

So it is Plathypena scabra you saw?

This page:

says: "Green cloverworm (Figure 13) feeds on leguminous crops such as clover, bean, cowpea, vetch, soybean, peanut, and alfalfa. It may also feed on strawberries and many common weeds. The insect overwinters as a pupa or moth in crop debris. Eggs are laid singly on the undersurfaces of leaves. There are as many as six generations per year. This insect rarely exceeds economic threshold levels."

Tomato is not mentioned. Other pages say that the green cloverworm is good since the beneficial insects that you want to have for organic gardening love to eat green cloverworms...

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sat, May 21, 2005 - 7:24 PM by Unsubsc...

This page says the cloverworms are not found west of the great plains... not sure what part of texas you are in:

But it also mentions that the four pairs of prolegs are unique to the cloverworm, so if you saw that then this is them.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Sun, May 22, 2005 - 5:52 AM by freckly

ahh... that's a great page for worm identification!

it's either the cabbage loper or the cloverworm. I'll have to count the legs. these little details i overlook sometimes make the difference between species. hehehe i think they'll respond the same way to the remedy.

i live about 45 minutes from the Louisiana border.

a clover patch just died down behind my house. the deer were coming at night. it was so lovely.

we hit 96F yesterday. it's gonna be a hot, dry summer i think.

i bought some Green Light organically approved products yesterday which i believe are going to help.

the fire ants have also taken over everywhere i water. their sting is comprable to a wasp, and usually they sting collectively. that is one creature for which i feel no affection.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Thu, May 26, 2005 - 3:25 PM by freckly

okay, i'm getting really frustrated. i've lost over 9 tomatoes already.

it's the cabbage looper: 3 front legs, 2 on the mid torso.


i found three on one plant this morning.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sarah Thu, May 26, 2005 - 3:59 PM by Sarah

Did you try spreading crushed eggshell around the bottom of your plant?
Slugs and various bugs because of their fragile skin cannot crawl over the broken shells.
I don't know it's just an idea. I once camped out in a chair at night to see if the "Slug Beer" really worked.
Does soap spray or garlic spay discourage?
I wish you the best.
Sarah Bear

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Thu, May 26, 2005 - 5:04 PM by freckly

i've tried a nice organic spray with clove and thyme oil, but my hubby is supposed to be bringing home some neem spray.

i don't have any eggshells. hehehe. and i think they're already on the plants, hiding inside them and such. i removed all the tomatoes with holes because they hide in there, come out, an dmove to the other fruits. grr.....

i'm so sad about losing my tomatoes...

so many of the hardwoods are being attacked by something, too. all the leaves on some trees are gone. isn't that horrible!

we finally got some rain yesterday, so maybe the trees have a chance against whatever is destroying them.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sarah Thu, May 26, 2005 - 6:40 PM by Sarah

That is horrible...Does your local University Washington extension program have anyone who will come out and look at the trees or even the plants. They saved my Maple from Potatoe bugs, they were literally boring down through the trunk. If a tree is dying of unkown causes, then maybe someone in your city or county may take interest and be able to help.
Once again I wish you the best.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Thu, May 26, 2005 - 11:16 PM by Unsubsc...

Wasps will eat cabbage lopers, but that's probably not practical right at this point. I strongly suggest you go out there every hour and physically squash every one of the lopers you find. Keep at it until there are no more. You can also try bt and see if it works on lopers.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Fri, May 27, 2005 - 1:57 PM by freckly

right, Sarah! we have the county extension office. they'll help.

dude! every hour?! LOL i can earn money to buy more tomatoes if i spend that hour working. hehehehe but it's probably all that is gonna help me now. i'm going to try the clove/thyme oil again, though.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sarah Fri, May 27, 2005 - 2:16 PM by Sarah

I really wish well on this subject.
Our tomatoes sometimes get blight and then the whole crop is ruined.
I feed our small preschool all organic food and our garden saves the school allot of food costs. The big plus is children who wouldn't normally touch a vegetable will eat a green leafy salad that they think they grew.
Take care

every hour

Fri, May 27, 2005 - 3:16 PM by Unsubsc...

If you are looking for an organic solution, then you can use predator insects, you can manually kill the pests, or you can use a bt. Predators are more of a long term thing. bt is an option I have suggested several times and there has been no response. I also suggested going out at night and killing them, but you said that they continued to do damage. Thus I suggest going out more often.

Yes, it is true that for the cost of your labor, it is more economical to buy stuff at teh supermarket. That is always true. If someone is doing small scale organic gardening to save money they are making a mistake since that is not a way to save money. It is instead a way to stay in touch with food, or to have a better quality food, or to have things you can't get at the store. But lower cost is not a good reason to go organic on a small scale. If you want a low labor option, then you should use chemicals. I recommend carboryl for lopers - it will kill all of them in one night and will breakdown in time for the harvest.

Re: every hour

Fri, May 27, 2005 - 3:19 PM by Unsubsc...

Sorry, carbaryl (spelling connection). Also known as Sevin. Very effective.

Re: every hour

Fri, May 27, 2005 - 3:20 PM by Unsubsc...

Arg! connection -> correction

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Fri, May 27, 2005 - 3:31 PM by freckly

Sarah, i LOVE what you're doing.

what a sweet soul. :)

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Sarah Sun, May 29, 2005 - 10:30 AM by Sarah

So what is the update so far, just curious, though the climate is different, I had to go and carefully look at all my plants.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

adamZZ Wed, June 8, 2005 - 7:58 PM by adamZZ

I grew up on an organic farm, and my dad always sprinkled wood ashes on anything that would get eaten. With some crops, the pests have never returned after years. Nothing likes to eat anything burnt.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

B'anna Fri, June 10, 2005 - 10:20 PM by B'anna

wood ash is great! especially keeps the ants away. They sink in it and immediately turn around.

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

freckly Sat, June 11, 2005 - 3:24 PM by freckly

is there anything i need to do to restore Ph after using ashes?

(seems the birds have taken care of my little green friends. thank GOD i didn't use anything chemical that would have hurt the birdies...)

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Left Darrow Sun, June 19, 2005 - 11:39 PM by Left Da...

What a great way to get kids hooked on vegies!

Re: little green worms.. everywhere

Left Darrow Sun, June 19, 2005 - 11:42 PM by Left Da...

And good tips on the wood ashes and more egg shells, I will try those things too. The beer traps are doing some good already, but I need a more comprehensive approach to the same problem. I was thinking of spraying with nematodes for the slugs.