Yard and Garden Control of Worms & Moths



Worms are basically the Larvae, immature stage of any of a number of insects. Primarily various moth species. However some varieties of Beetles commonly produce worms fairly indistinguishable in general appearance and feeding habits from moth larvae.


Common Varieties of Worms


Blueberry fruit worm

Cherry Fruit worm

Cranberry fruit worm

Raspberry fruit worm

Tomato fruit worm

Pickle Worms


Green Fruit worms

Corn Earworm

Cabbage Looper

Web Worms

Leek Moth

Corn Borer


Blueberry Tip Borer

Blue Stem Borer

Beet Armyworm

Celery worm


Diamondback Moth



Diamondback Moth  


The adult diamondback moth is small, grayish-brown with fringed hind wings. There is a pattern of white diamonds in a line down itís back,from which it derived it's name. (It is actually a variety of Cabbage worm) 


The eggs are round, white and 2-3 times the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Eggs are found in groups of 1- 3 and will most often be located on the underside of leaves adjacent to a large vein.


 The larvae are pale green with a black head and sparse black hairs. In contrast to some of the other cabbage worms, the larvae of the diamondback moth will wiggle furiously when picked up. The larvae may be observed hanging by a silken thread. The pupa is approximately one quarter of an inch long, covered with a loose silken cocoon and will frequently be found stuck to the plant. [Image- Diamond back moth larva]
 Adult diamond back moths will feed in small amounts although the damage is so slight that it will often go unnoticed. Control of the Adults will control the arrival of more offspring Praying Mantids are recommended if not used in conjunction with chemicals.



It is the larvae of the diamondback moth that causes significant damage. The foliage of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and related crops is damaged by the larvae. Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide ..used to kill plant eating caterpillars, moth larvae, Gypsy Moth larvae and other leaf eating worms is highly effective against the the Diamondback larva.





Fruit Worms





The Raspberry Fruitworms  -Yellow to brown beetles, 1/4 inch long. The larvae is brown and white, up to 1/8 inch long. Commonly infest Blackberry, dewberry and raspberry. Adults make long, narrow slits in blossom buds and newly formed leaves. Larvae feed in berries.  [Image-Larva]


Adult raspberry Fruitworm beetles [Image-Adult] overwinter in soil around host plants, emerging in spring. The beetles begin feeding on tender new foliage and, later, flower buds. Females deposit eggs on or inside flower buds or young fruit. Larvae bore into fruit and fall to the soil where they pupate when fruit ripens.

Working diatomaceous earth into the soil around host plants will help deter this pest.  Applying beneficial nematodes to  the soil before planting will greatly reduce surviving pupae.



Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury Pesticides such as pyrethroids {Pyrethrin} that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms.




Cherry Fruitworms  - [Image] cause severe damage in blueberries, cranberries and Cherries. It causes its injury by boring into the fruit. The larvae bore through the epidermis shortly after they hatch. This early injury can be detected in a few days. The larvae may feed extensively just below the surface. A maturing larva may damage more than one fruit. The cherry Fruitworm has one generation per year, once the fruits themselves become infested there is no way to kill off the worms which are inside.


All infested fruits must be handpicked and destroyed so that the cherry and cranberry Fruitworms do not migrate to other nearby host plants.


Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury. 

Pesticides such as pyrethroids {Pyrethrin} that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms.  See Also . Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide .




Cranberry fruit worm  


A serious pest of blueberries cranberries cherries .  Infested berries may be harvested without detection, resulting in inspectors or consumers finding larvae in packaged berries.


Wild blueberries and cranberries are often heavily infested with the cranberry Fruitworms; if commercial fields are nearby they will likely have problems with this pest. Weedy, unkempt plantings are also likely to have higher populations of this insect.



Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury. 

Pesticides such as pyrethroids  {Pyrethrin}  that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms. See Also . Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide .






Blueberry fruitworm  


Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury.

Pesticides such as pyrethroids {Pyrethrin}  that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms.


Fruit Crop Advisory - Michigan State University

University of Florida - Insect Management  in Blueberries





Tomato Fruitworms  and Corn earworms


The corn earworm/ Tomato Fruitworm varies in color from light green or pink to dark gray but are generally lighter on their undersurface and have alternating light and dark stripes along the length of their bodies. The young larvae clip off silks and then proceed into the ear where they remain until ready to pupate in the soil. There are five to six larval stages and the appearance and color of the larvae change with each stage .


The moth is usually light yellowish-olive with a single dark spot near the center of each forewing. Common hosts are  Corn ,Tomato , Eggplant , snap beans,


Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury.

Pesticides such as pyrethroids {Pyrethrin}   that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms.


They Feed on corn, soybeans, strawberry and tomatoes as well as several non garden plants. This critter can cause severe damage to young seed pods ,early recognition is the key to control.
Corn earworm moths are most active during evening hours.
Praying Mantids Are highly effective at this stage. Adult moths are about an inch long, robust and range from olive green to dark red in color.  


A recent study has shown that Lady Bugs are a voracious predator of the larvae/pupae stages. "A  Lady Bug, ....... was the dominant predator in corn contributing slightly less than half of the observed predation. "

From Baseline Susceptibility of the Corn Earworm

The best control for corn earworm on Strawberries and similar cultivars is Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide (Bt)


Praying Mantids Are effective against the moth












Green Fruitworms  

Speckled-Green Fruitworms

Humped-Green Fruitworms

Named "Green" Fruitworms, not only  because are primarily green, but because they predominantly attack Green or immature Fruit. 

Young green Fruitworms larvae feed on leaves. Fruit feeding usually begins about petal fall and continues until larvae have completed their development. At harvest, these fruit are misshapen and have large, roughened, russeted cavities.

They include several species of caterpillars, all of which are pale green, often with whitish stripes down each side of the body and a narrow stripe down the middle of the back. Most species pass the winter as pupae or adults, and have one generation each year.  Green Fruitworms eat large holes in young leaves and fruit during late bloom and petal fall causing fruit to be scarred and misshapen as they grow.

Small larvae feed on young foliage initially, buds and blooms later, and finally on the fruit when it becomes available. They cause deep, sunken pits in the fruit. Most of the fruit damaged by these caterpillars fall to the ground by early June. Damaged fruit remaining on the tree has large, sunken, corky wounds at harvest.
A wide host range, including apple, cherry, plum, pear, apricot, strawberry, quince, willow, birch, poplar, balsam, alder, choke cherry,


Sprays/Pesticides must be applied in the pre-bloom stage to prevent injury.

Pesticides such as pyrethroids that  are more effective in cool than warm weather will work more efficiently against Fruitworms earlier in the season, and is the recommended early season chemical for Fruitworms.



Pickleworms  [Image] - A tropical insect which routinely survives the winter only in deep southern regions of the United States and further south (adios amigo) North Carolina and South Carolina are regular hosts of the pickleworm, but often this usually doesn't occur until early Autumn. It takes some time for the varmints to hitch a ride north.

The life cycle is approximately one month. Overlapping generations occur.
Their minute eggs are white when deposited on the buds, flowers, and other portions of the plant , but change to yellow after the first day. They are distributed in small groups, usually less than a dozen per cluster. Hatching takes about four days.

Larval development time is about two weeks. After which the moths emerge, they are primarily nocturnal. [Pickleworm Moth - Image]. Moths are not found in the field during the daylight hours, and probably disperse to adjacent wooded or weedy areas during the heat of the day. Moths do not produce eggs until they are several days old.  Praying Mantids are recommended if not used in conjunction with chemicals as they as well as bats are among the few nocturnal predators of moths.

They feed on squash, cucumber, cantaloupe, and pumpkin.
The blossom is a favored feeding site, especially for young larvae. In plants with large blossoms, such as summer squash, larvae may complete their development without entering fruit. They may also move from blossom to blossom, feeding and destroying the plant's capacity to produce fruit. Very often, however, the larva burrows into the fruit.

They have several natural enemies, but none reliably suppress damage. It is difficult to scout for this insect and predict its appearance.

Pollinators, particularly bees, are very important in cucurbit production, and insecticide application can interfere with pollination by killing bees. If insecticides are to be applied when blossoms are present, it is advisable to use insecticides with little residual activity, and to apply insecticides late in the day, when honeybee activity is minimal.



Beneficial Insect Mix -A blend of lady bugs, parasitic wasps and other predatory carnivorous insects which have proven effective in reducing populations of many species of worms and various garden pests.



Celery worm

The large larva of the black swallowtail butterfly, {Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll}, is an occasional feeder on carrot foliage, and other crops. Generally not a major problem, the 2-inch, dark green caterpillar has a black encircling band on each segment and a pair of orange horns that can be protruded from behind the neck when disturbed. --- Pyrethrin




Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide




Larvae of small moths that complete several generations per year  these worms are about 3/4 inch in length, and have light green coloration with numerous black spots. As they develop, webworms spin silken webs over plant terminals, then feed on leaves, buds, and blossoms within the webs. Although extensive defoliation may not result from their feeding, webworms often consume fruiting structures and their webs interfere with pollination and seed set. Infestations by these worms can result in serious losses in seed production.




Leek Moth      

The leek moth (a/k/a onion leafminer), is a pest of several species of Allium. native to Europe, The distribution of the pest includes Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Where generations are limited to 1-2 per year, the pest is sporadic and causes little damage.

The leek moth attacks leeks (Who would have guessed ? ) as well as garlic, chives, green onions,, shallot, and some related plant species.

The larvae will tunnel mines in the leaf tissue, sometimes causing distortion, and are reported to occasionally attack the bulb and stems.
See Also Leafminer 



Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide


Predators / Natural Control

Trichogramma Pretiosum




Corn Borers   
The European Corn borer larvae are 3/4 to 1 inch in length and creamy-white to pink in color. The head capsule is dark brown and, on top of each abdominal ring or segment, there are several small dark brown or black spots .
Pupae vary from 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in length, are torpedo in shape, and range in color from reddish-brown to dark-brown. The moth has a wingspan of about one-inch, with the female being slightly larger than the male. The wings are dusky-yellow in color and bear transverse, irregular, olive-green bands . Male wings are often darker in color.
The females typically lay 15 to 30 eggs in masses and may lay up to 500 eggs over their lifetime. Egg masses usually are laid on the underside of corn leaves and are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter .

Moths become active in the evening mating and laying eggs. they spend the day hiding in protected areas.
In addition to corn, They feed on over 300 different plants, including green peppers, and bush beans.

The South Western Corn borer is a more difficult insect to control. It has two to three generations per year. First generation infestations do not often cause much damage. Second and third generation larvae can be devastating.
First-generation feeding include small holes, and small circular lesions in leaf tissue.
Second-generation larvae tunnel extensively through the plant.


Blueberry Tip Borer   

A tiny moth that emerges sometime in early Summer and deposits eggs on the undersides of tip leaves. The larvae bore into the plants woody section  forming a channel several inches in length which causes the shoot to wilt and die back.

Blueberry Stem Borer     


 In late June / early July, the first three to four inches of the current season's growth may wilt or be destroyed by this pest. this can occur on large, rapidly growing suckers or on small, slow-growing twigs. An examination of the injured twig reveals girdling in two places, about 1/2 inch apart, caused by egg deposition.


The other injury is the dying out of canes. The leaves first turn from green to yellow or reddish green and drop off, and the cane dies. Close examination may show pinholes at 3- to 4-inch intervals along the shoot and yellowish strings of castings hanging from them. The cane, when split, contains a yellowish, legless grub, 1/2 to 1 inch long, at the end of a long tunnel.



Bioneem Insecticide: Concentrate is a safe bio-control recommended against these pests

Praying Mantids Are effective against the moth



Cabbage Looper  


The cabbage looper larvae are a light green color with faint stripes down their backs.
They reach approximately 1Ĺ inches long and have three pairs of slender legs near the head and three pairs of larger legs at the rear end.
The middle section is legless and is looped when the insect is moving. (Inch-worm style)

Larvae are the damaging stage of this insect. Worms feed on the undersides of leaves between the veins and leave ragged holes. They also feed on cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli heads. They can be present from early spring to late fall.


Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide




Leaf Rollers  


Leaf rollers are small greenish to green/brown caterpillars (moth larvae) that feed on leaves, buds and fruit ..they're the worm in your apple .(Or 1/2 worm as the case may be) .Some of the more prevalent and bothersome varieties include red banded leaf roller, fruit tree leaf roller, oblique banded leaf roller, variegated leaf roller, omnivorous leaf roller.

Leaf rollers larvae feed on both fruit and foliage. Foliar injury is generally not a major concern.

Larvae may seal leaf surfaces together and live between them or fold leaves together and live in the folds. Larvae also feed within berries and fruit (The worm in your apple ) and may not be noticed until harvest time, or at consumption.

Young larvae feed on unfolded leaves. Older larvae fold the leaves in half and hold them in place with webbing. Damage results from the larvae feeding within the folded, rolled or webbed leaves, causing them to turn brown and die.

Monitoring should begin early. Look for folded or rolled leaves among the plants. (Fig.1)  The leaves may be discolored or show some feeding damage such as small holes in the leaves. Pick the rolled leaves carefully and examine for leaf roller larvae. If the rolled leaves do not have any larvae present, it is too late to control the larvae. Now you will be dealing with the adults, spraying would be ineffective and costly at this time.




Bioneem Insecticide: Concentrate is a safe bio-control recommended against these pests




Only under extreme conditions should spraying be necessary. Healthy plants have an abundance of leaves and the loss of a small percentage will have little if any effect .   My primary concern has always been ...the worm in my Apple, or ...

Higher populations may coincide with fruiting and may cause severe damage but this is rare. Bio-controls are recommended to keep populations in check.






Cutworms are larvae of of a large family of dull-colored , night-flying moths, often visible around lights in Spring, They come in various colors, but are generally a dull gray and well camouflaged within the soil. They are soft-bodied, hairless caterpillars that curl up when touched.  Fully grown, they are less than 2 inches long. (Fig. 1)

Their life cycle consists of egg - larva- pupa and adult.
One generation is produced each year. Eggs overwinter on the tip of grass blades or on the top layer of soil.


Army Cutworms (Armyworms) travel in great numbers. They could be grey, brown or black, striped, black sided, yellow-headed and greasy.
They hide under the soil surface during the day, but are voracious night feeders.

On top of the soil they cut through seedlings or devour leaves, leaving only the stem. Some varieties infest Fruit Trees, Vines and Berry Bushes. A few varieties feed on roots causing plants to wilt and die.   Cutworm Damage (Fig.2)

Usually larvae chew young plants off at the base at or near ground level. When you see a freshly severed plant, carefully stir the soil around it and you can usually find and destroy the culprit before it can move to the next plant. Sometimes you will find more than one cutworm in the immediate area ....Plants are often cut off completely at or just below the soil surface giving the appearance of a freshly mowed a




Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide is a safe bio-control recommended against these pests

Diatomaceous Earth is a highly effective preemptive device against further infestation.   Organic Pest Control: Diatomaceous Earth Mastergardening Brand 3.6 lbs

Predators / Natural Control

Praying Mantids Most cutworms are night feeders, The Mantid (Mantis) hunts at night (As well as day)

Beneficial Nematodes are useful against cutworms as They hide under the soil surface during the egg and larva stages.  



 Their favorite garden menu consists of  Corn, Tomato, pepper, cabbage, peas, beans, and squash.

They also feed on Potatoes, Cauliflower, Misc. greens, Melons and Onions

They avoid plants with woody stems.






Wireworms are the slender, yellowish-brown, hard-bodied larvae of various beetles There are many species of wireworm , various species attack Beans, Carrots, beet, celery, lettuce, onion, sweet potato, turnip, and mustard . These worms reek their havoc by puncturing and tunneling  stems, roots and tubers. Carrots are a particular favorite.

They also feed on the seeds prior to germination or shortly after germination. If the plants do germinate at all they will continue to deteriorate, because wireworms bore into underground portions of the stem causing further wilting and ultimately death.

They continue to feed upon the small roots of many plants throughout the season. Wireworm larvae are generally hard, burnt brown, smooth, varying from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches in length when full grown. Some species are soft, and white or yellowish in color.





Note; Insecticide labels provide an extensive amount of information and indicate that the insecticide has been extensively tested, and evaluated by the EPA . Insecticides cannot be legally registered, much less sold, without going through these procedures. Among the information included on an insecticide label is the "directions for use", and perhaps more importantly, information with regard to the toxicity of the chemical. Any chemical is potentially toxic . READ THE LABEL BEFORE APPLYING ANY PESTICIDE. & Follow all label directions. This publication contains pesticide recommendations. Changes in pesticide regulations occur constantly, some materials mentioned may no longer be available, and some uses may no longer be legal.