June 11, 2016

Squash Vine Borer Nearly Kills Tomato

Remember that Pantano Romanesco tomato plant whose top suddenly flopped over and died? Well I was trimming the crumbly desiccated bits and found a hole in the stem. Yep. It was a squash vine borer. There's even the tell tale "saw dust" trail in the hole, a sure sign of vine borer activity.

There have been a few of the red moths flying around which are the adult version of the vine borer and of course plenty of cabbage moths fluttering about as well. Luckily the squash plants are still much too little to seduce the moths into laying their eggs, but I'll be spraying Bt on the broccoli and Brussels sprouts tomorrow.
It was actually a fairly large plant and Pantano Romensco is an excellent variety, but it'll now get replaced with a Jubilee tomato. One of the last three unplanted tomato plants that I've been babying after finally potting up the poor root bound creatures.
Today I'm tying up tomato plants in the Florida weave style and later watering the garden with a dose of rock dust. I have to admit, my back is killing me and I'm taking breaks each time I finish tying up a row. This style of tomato support system will get much easier once the plants get taller.

Almost forgot to mention. This year I've seen a tiny insect pollinating the tomatoes, a pretty shiny blue-green flying insect with "saddlebags" for carrying pollen just like a normal bee. I've seen them once before at our old place, the year we had a spectacular tomato and pepper harvest.


Margaret said...

I really had no idea that squash vine borers went for veg other than squash. That's not good news. At least I don't have to worry about any of the brassicas - mine are all covered otherwise, with the number of cabbage whites we have around here, I'd have little to harvest.

David Velten said...

I'm surprised that an SVB could attack a tomato stem, which is solid and fibrous. C. moschata squash like butternut are supposed to be resistant because they have solid stems, not tubular. There are other other things, like maybe a pickle worm or something called a stalk borer? The stalk borer will attack many types of plants but rarely a tomato and are very hard to control. The larvae is cream and purple striped with a large purple band around its middle.

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
Crazy right? I went ahead and replaced that plant with another one. It's a variety that hasn't been planted in the garden yet, so it all worked out. Yesterday I saw cabbage moths laying eggs on tomato and pepper plants, just anything they can find really.

Phuong said...

Hi David,
I've heard of pickle worms just from reading online but I never heard of a stalk borer. I thought about cutting the stem open, but decided I really didn't want to come in contact with the borer. Where I grew up we didn't have any kind of borers and I don't remember ever seeing a squash bug before.

Michelle said...

I've never heard of anything that bores into tomato stalks! Yuck. I hope it was a one time event.

Phuong said...

Hi Michelle,
I think it was just a freaky one time thing. I've seen pictures of people of cutting out vine borers, no thank you.

Unknown said...

I live in New Hampshire and I was in my garden this morning and witnessed a squash borer moth laying eggs on my tomatoes and peppers!!!! I fight this horrible beast all summer with my squash, and am quite disheartened to think I could love my tomatoes as well!!

Phuong said...

Hi Marilyn,
I'm hoping the squash borer in the tomato plant was just a one time fluke. They always destroy our squashes as well.

Simone said...

Squash vine borers do not attack tomatoes. However, stalk borers attack a wide variety of plants, including tomatoes,although they're most serious as a pest of corn. Luckily, they're not that common in home gardens and are an occasional pest that rarely shows up in high numbers. Wireworms also bore into tomatoes sometimes, although they more commonly damage roots.