How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Tomato pinworm—Keiferia lycopersicella

Tomato pinworm caterpillars are tiny and have a mottled pattern. The color varies from gray to yellowish with red or purple coloring around each segment. Caterpillars may sometimes be quite dark.

Identification of species | Life cycle

Damage

Pinworms cause leaf mines and folded shelters on leaves. They bore into fruit at the stem ends, creating narrow, blackened tunnels. Damage is hard to detect at first, but after larvae have been feeding for some time, a brown, granular frass usually appears at the edge of the calyx.

Solutions

Tomato pinworms are difficult to control with insecticides, and natural enemies are not effective. Disc all plants immediately after harvest. A host-free period of 3 months or more is essential to control pinworms.

Pinworm larva
Pinworm larva

Pinworm folds in leaf
Pinworm folds in leaf


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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