I didn’t expect to see a big fat worm eating its way through one of my tomatoes when I peeked in between the overgrown branches to see if any new fruit had ripened. I’d been away for a few days at the Garden Bloggers Fling 2017, so as you can imagine, I was happy to be back in the garden and excited to see how much things had grown after a weekend of daily rain showers. I know when you grow tomatoes you can expect to find worms, but this one caught me by surprise. This little monster is a Yellow Striped Armyworm and is a common garden pest, especially in Southern gardens.
If you are growing tomatoes, or other garden veggies like beans, beets, or cruciferous vegetables – you may end up having to fight an army of destructive worms. Yellow striped armyworms have a dark-colored body with a thin, bright yellow line down each side. They are most active at night and generally hide underneath leaves during the day. I guess this one was chomping during the day since it had cover from the overgrown leaves surrounding it. As you can see, this tomato plant is in need of some serious pruning.
Armyworms travel in groups, hence the name ‘army’ worms. So if you see one, you can almost bet there are more members of the platoon nearby. So it’s important to be swift and aggressive in eradicating them from your garden.
An organic pest control for armyworms is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterial toxin that kills most types of caterpillars that feed on edible garden plants. It’s non-toxic to humans and animals, easy to apply, and effective in controlling armyworms on tomato plants. When armyworms eat a plant treated with Bt, the toxin destroys their intestinal wall rendering them unable to eat. The worms die within a few days.
So you know one of my garden chores for this weekend. Wish me luck in winning the battle!