How to Control Tomato Pinworms
Most fruits and vegetables have their own special insect pests that will accompany your crop to one degree or another. Tomatoes seem to have a multitude of pests. Tomato pinworms are another annoying pest to be aware of.
Tomato pinworms will typically enter tomatoes through a tiny hole in the stem. Typically, you won’t notice it until you take the stem off. At that point you will see a small hole and the tiny gray larvae. The damage they cause will be narrow black tunnels through the tomato, and the small holes near the stem. The annoying thing about the pinworms is that they are hard to see, so unless you know what you are looking for, you run the risk of eating the pinworm. The good thing about pinworms is that if the damage is not too bad, you may be able to just cut the top off the tomato, with most of the fruit still salvageable.
Pinworm damage on northern edge of area where stem was. Little grey pinworm is there, but hard to see.
1. Bacillus thuringiensis is a very effective organic insecticide for all worms that attack tomatoes. However, I personally don’t think it’s necessary. I get so many tomatoes, that I don’t worry too much about losing some to pests.
2. Wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings will feed on the larvae or eggs. It is a good idea to plant plants in the umbelliferae family with your tomatoes. This family includes carrots, dill, parsley, coriander, celery, caraway, lovage, cicely, and many others. The umbelliferae family is great for attracting predatory insects because the tiny flowers produce nectar which the insects can drink while they are waiting for a pest outbreak. Also, some of the more odiferous herbs can mask the tomato smells that attract the pests. That is one of the reasons for the old saying that tomatoes love carrots.
3. Planting basil near tomatoes can also help repel pests.
4. Destroy any fruit that becomes infested by the pinworms. I give them to my chickens. They love tomatoes with pinworms!
5. If you cover your rows when your tomatoes start to flower with row covers, you can avoid the eggs ever being laid. I personally think this is way too much work. No thanks.