Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Tomato Fruitworm, Green Sweat Bee, Carpenter Bee, & Assassin Bug

Fred, a tomato enthusiast and gardener, asked, “Hello, can you tell me what you recommend for this damage? Thanks”

The caterpillar in the image above is a tomato fruitworm. If it looks like the corn earworm, it is because they are the same pest. Chemical control could include Sevin®, Malathion®, Bifenthrin® or Permethrin®. Organic control could include Spinosad, Dipel® or Thuricide®. As always, read the label of each insecticide for safe and effective use.

Trevor observed a green bee and correctly identified it as a female, brown-striped sweat bee. He asked for confirmation of its identity.

AHA consulted with Ms. Victoria Bayless, Curator of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum in Baton Rouge about this green. Bayless confirmed Trevor’s ID, but with a slightly different common name, brown-winged striped sweat bee. During Trevor’s research, he observed that, “[It] seems like the males have bright yellow stripes whereas the females are almost entirely green with black and slightly greyish, if not white, stripes.”

This bee is a native, solitary, ground-nesting insect. It will visit the following flowering plants: sunflowers, asters, morning-glories, pumpkins and their relatives, legumes, fringe tree, evening-primroses, irises, roses, and other plants.

Long Leggedy Beasties blog shares this caution, “Sweat bees can sting, but generally are not particularly aggressive unless handled roughly. Stings, if they do occur, are relatively minor.”

Pam of DeRidder asked, “This is a new one on me. What is it? It is about the size of a bumblebee, but [it is] way off color. [It] Looks like it would sting. “

Pam has a carpenter bee. To tell the difference between a bumblebee and a carpenter bee, remember that a bumblebee has a “fuzzy butt,” and a carpenter bee has a “shiny hiney.”

Robert Souvestre, retired AgCenter horticulture agent, addressed Pam’s concerns about stings, “Carpenter bees tend not to be aggressive and the insect you see hovering around wood and sometimes getting in your face is the male protecting the nesting site. Males do not have stingers so they cannot hurt you. The females do have stingers but seldom bother people since they are only interested in boring the wood and laying eggs.”

Souvestre also addresses the damage to wood by these insects, “Prevent damage from carpenter bees by painting exposed wood. Though not a guaranteed remedy, it works most of the time. A preventative treatment may be made by applying two applications of a borate formulation (Timbor®) on existing structures and using pressure treated wood when rebuilding or replacing damaged wood.”

Chaery of DeRidder asked this question, “How can I control this bug?”Chaery has a beneficial assassin bug in the juvenile form, so no control is needed. In this image, the young assassin bug is already feeding on a beetle. Blake Wilson and Rodrigo Diaz, both entomologists with the AgCenter, wrote a factsheet, The Assassin in the Garden, about assassin bugs and why they are beneficial, “Assassin bugs are true bugs (Hemiptera) in the family Reduviidae. They feed on a diverse variety of insects including flies, mosquitos, roaches, beetles, aphids, and caterpillars. While these insects will not attack humans or pets, their bright colors should serve as a warning. Painful bites can occur in self-defense if the insect is handled or if accidental contact is made during gardening activities. Bites are rare despite the common occurrence of these insects and the benefits of having them in a garden far outweigh the risks.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

6.14_fig_1_tomato_fruitworm_Fred_Carter.jpg thumbnail

Figure 1. Tomato fruitworm.

6.14_fig_2_brown-striped_sweat_bee_Trevor_Rousselle.png thumbnail

Figure 2. Brown-striped sweat bee.

figure3.jpg thumbnail

Figure 3. Carpenter bee.

figure4.jpg thumbnail

Figure 4. Assassin bug.

6/15/2023 7:43:58 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture