Red worms in baby buds

Could not get answer in my original message, so trying a new one.Update. I removed both plants from their pots and planted them in my vegetable garden. The leaves continued to turn yellow but it Did seem like it was slowing down. Still getting brown spots then turning yellow, but no holes or apparent bugs. Amazingly, what little good growth I had left, actually flowered and I thought I might get about 10 decent buds from each plant (better than nothing). In checking today, I broke open one “cluster”, not really a bud yet, sort of dark greenish brown, and found an orangeish/red worm about 3-5mm. I checked another and it too had a worm! I did not open any of those 20 “good” buds yet until I check here. I searched the forums but mostly found references to green worms/catipillars, and not these redish/orange ones I have. Supposedly I have about one more month till estimated harvest, but should I do it now? If so, what should be the procedure to save what I can? get answer in original message so trying a new message.

Maybe @garrigan62 can help you

Will he see the post automatically?

Yes @KimInWis he will . By putting @ in front of the persons name they will be notified - tagged as @HornHead has done . Sometimes it take a little time for folks to respond , they might be at work etc.

I’d check all of your plants, it can’t be a good sign in my opinion. I’ve been battling them a bit, I had some that were brownish. You may need to remove some of the areas they have been eating due to rot.

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So your from Wisconsin, cool…anyway Welcome to…ILGM


The aim of this thread is to teach people everything there is
to know about the budworms that are attacking your plants. The
common name of this insect is the Tobacco Budworm. It has a few
other names that are synonymous but that one will lead you to
the most relevant information in case you want to do further research.


The tobacco budworm varies greatly in appearance so it can easily
be confused with other species. Making an accurate ID of your
attacker can be important because some species have built up
resistances to certain treatments. Luckily for us growers,
if you find a caterpillar on your plants you can be 99% sure
its a tobacco budworm. If you live in Africa, Europe,
New Zealand, Australia or Asia its going to be the species
Helicoverparmigera. If you live anywhere else its going to
be the species Heliocoverparmigera this virescens. The distinction between
these two species is not important however since they can both
be treated using the same methods.

Most people find the larval form (caterpillar) on their plants
so I won’t spend much time describing the adult moth. The caterpillars
are initially pale green and often have black dots covering their body.
Thin dark lines run down the length of the abdomen and tend to be
darker around the second and third segments. As the larva ages
(progresses in instars) the black dots may develop a red border
around them. The abdomen is also covered with numerous microspines
that give the caterpillar a rough feel. The head capsule is nearly
always a light brown color. Again I wouldn’t worry too much if this
description doesn’t completely match up with the caterpillar you find.
There is great phenotypic variation in the tobacco budworm so there
can be different colors and designs.


The tobacco budworm goes through an egg, larvae, pupae and adult moth
stage. This is important to know so that you can realize where all
potential dangers lie. Eggs are spherical and white to yellowish in
color. They are about 5mm in diameter so it can be difficult to spot
them. An adult female moth can lay more than 500 eggs so this is a huge
problem! This problem made even worse if growing indoors since the
conditions are perfect for the speedy development of the eggs and l
arvae. Eggs can hatch anywhere from three to 14 days after being laid.
Indoors, you can expect them to hatch closer to the three day range.
If possible the moth will lay these eggs close to the reproductive
tissue of the host plant (our precious buds).

When the caterpillar has developed through all six of its instars
(phases of growth) it will burrow 1-7 inches into the soil and begin
to pupate. Don’t let this happen! It will probably take 15-30 days
for a caterpillar to mature so you have plenty of time to keep a look
out for these things. Keep in mind though that when the caterpillars
are very young they are only a few centimeters long and will be similar
in color to the plant. Regardless of how vigilant you may be, never
reuse soil that was involved in an infestation. Keep bags of unused
soil closed so budworms don’t develop secretly and surprise you in the
next grow.

The adult moth is a light brown color. The banding on the wings is
different depending which species you’re talking about but just to be
safe kill any moths that make it into your grow room.


As with many other problems, the best method of managing these pests is
to prevent them from entering into your grow space in the first place.
Do don’t bring anything from outside into your indoor grow. This includes
soil, pots, gloves, clothing that’s been touched by wild vegetation and
ANYTHING else. Any of these items could be carrying eggs.

If you have an outdoor grow or you failed to keep your indoor grow pest
free and you come under attack from the budworm there is still hope!
Bt insecticide can save the crop as long as you act quickly. This insecticide
is actually a bunch of tiny bacteria! Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis,
a bacterium that produces a protein deadly to the tobacco budworm. The protein
interacts with a intestinal lining of the caterpillar, paralyzing its
digestive system and preventing it from eating. This will take effect
in a few hours after ingestion. Notice I said ingesting and not contact.
This is your biggest problem as it will require frequent applications
of the insecticide. If the budworms have burrowed deep into your dense
buds they will continue happy munching on your plant without eating any
of the bacteria. Combat this by physically checking each bud site for
holes (I know its a bitch). Pick out the bastards in the evening hours
when they are least active. Spray your Bt all over the plant until it
is dripping and pray you get them all. Since the bacteria must be ingested
ONLY the larvae are vulnerable and that is the reason you must keep applying
the insecticide. Eggs must hatch before they can be killed. Adults and
pupae should be killed manually if found.

On a side note, if you are growing outdoors and are conscientious of the
environment around you (as you should be), you don’t need to worry about
harming any nontarget organisms with the use of Bt. It specifically attacks
caterpillars like the budworm and nothing else.

Releasing natural predators into your grow room can also serve as a
secondary method of eradication. Some wasps, the bigeye bug, damsel
bugs, minute pirate bugs and spiders are known predators. I’ve heard
that ladybugs and praying manta can also help.


Thanks @garrigan62

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Your very welcome my friend…any time just sorry I was a little late…lol

Thank you SO much for your very in-depth reply!
Question 1. I started my plants in pots in what I thought as good (mircle grow) which I know now was not a good idea. After they got large enough I put them put them outside. They did well for a couple of months then leaves started turning yellow. pH and nitrates we’re good. That’s when I called you all for help. Dobyou think this is when the bug/ moth started to attack?
Question 2. So I should start BT treatment now and let them grow till harvest (just a couple more weeks) or harvest now? If harvest now, how do I kill the worms in the buds? I hate to break open the buds.
Question 3. I’m going to try outside again next year. Are there any prevetitive steps I can take besides careful monitoring I can do?
Again, thank you so much for you support it’s very much appreciated!

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