My tomatillo plants are infested with some sort of green caterpillar or larvae that's chewing holes in the husk, fruit, and leaves. It is not bothering the nearby tomato plants. Any ideas on what it is and how to get rid of it? green caterpillar on tomatillo plants

  • Ugh. When you knock these caterpillars out of the hole, do they curl up?
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 22:52
  • Did you plant tomatillo starts? Tomato starts or both by seed? What kind of soil for the starts?
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 22:53
  • We bought them from a local vegetable farmer, so not sure what type of soil they were started in.
    – lspare
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 23:30
  • where are you in the USA?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 23:40
  • You thinking southwest?
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 7:28

2 Answers 2


tomato fruit worms

These are cutworms. The best thing I have found is to go outside at night with a flashlight. Cut these guys in half with a pair of scissors. Green guts. But better than pesticides. BT is a 'good' pesticide on the scale of pesticides (herbicides, miticides, fungicides...) but cutworms are usually few in number. One or two can do huge damage. They come out at night to eat and they can power down some plant material.

If you find more than 4 or 5 during your nightly killer stalker thing, let me know!

One might conclude these guys came from the nursery, 'gee thanks'! Send a few more pictures and how many do you find on one plant? Rake the soil around your tomatoes and collect debris. Rake the soil around the tomatillos as well and dispose of the debris. Let's make sure of this idea first before treating, okay?

  • I found way more than 4 or 5 midday! It's truly an infestation.
    – lspare
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 23:29
  • Really? Oh my. Well, cutting works instantly and now, BT, or Bacillus thuringiensis is appropriate to use. Read the directions 5 times (that is what us pesticide applicators are taught first and foremost). Amazing they haven't found your tomato tomatoes. Your tomatillos acted like a 'trap crop'...they like the tomatillos better. Most insect infestation or problems are temporary depending on the life cycle of the insect. Do these guys curl into a tight circle?
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 23:39
  • I can’t remember now if they do or not. The garden is at a family member’s house so I can’t check today. We decided to spray weekly for a few weeks to see if we can get them all! We had no problems with them last year on the tomatillos, but we planted from seed then so I wondered if they did come with the soil.
    – lspare
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 19:10
  • What are you spraying? Bt? You will never eradicate any problem nor do you ever want to imagine that is possible. Control is perfect. Weird that they loved the tomatillos and well, have they found your tomatoes yet? Spray Bt at night if possible, allow to dry. The caterpillars/larvae eat the Bt on the leaves and the Bt a substance made by this bacterium causes the insect to 'feel full'...insects starve to death. As soon as these caterpillars eat this stuff they stop chowing down on your plants. Give it at least 2 weeks between sprays.unless infestation is still high.
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 0:09

how about mixing a little dish soap in water in a bottle and spraying the plants I heard someone say that works but I never had to worry about these hungry critters

  • 1
    Doesn't work with larvae and caterpillars. Sadly.
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 0:11

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