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Bright-Line Brown-Eye Moth

Lacanobia oleracea

Bright-Line Brown-Eye Moth, Brown-Eye Moth, Tomato Moth

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The Bright-Line Brown-Eye Moth is a common species found throughout Europe. Sometimes they're referred to as Tomato Moths because the caterpillars are often found feeding on the foliage and fruits of tomato plants. Lacanobia oleracea is a moth common to the British Isles, and it's frequent in gardens, cultivated land, heathland and the edges of saltmarshes.

Traits

Can cause damage to tomato plants.
Moths are a food source for British bat and bird populations.

Appearance

Adults: Mature moths are a light brown colour, with a brown and yellow circle near the margin of each forewing. They possess faint brown-black lines highlighting the wing veins. There is a thin, creamy white squiggly line which runs across both the forewings at the rear margin, each comprising a W shape in the centre of the line. Larvae: Caterpillars can be green, light brown or dark brown with a yellow-cream line running horizontally down the body, that is speckled with white and pairs of black dots. They measure roughly 4cm in length. Eggs: The eggs are tiny, spherical and creamy-white; laid in clusters of 20-40 on dandelion, dock, plantain and tomato plants.

Symptoms

Adult moths will sometimes lay eggs on tomato plants. When hatched young larvae feed underneath the leaf, turning it papery white. Larger caterpillars eat into leaves and fruit on plants leaving behind holes. Large caterpillars may also bore into tomatos. White eggs underneath tomato plants.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Noctuidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Europe

Biological treatment

The caterpillars can be flicked off, but you should try to avoid touching them by hand, so use a paintbrush, pencil, spoon, or use gardening gloves. Check beneath tomato leaves for eggs and remove accordingly. You can plant an indigenous 'weed' patch in the garden to discourage pest activity on tomato plants. Planting other favourable food plants for moth larvae may help reduce its activity on any desirable food crops, and these include orache, goosefoot and redshank. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth around tomato plants and on leaves can act as an effective barrier against caterpillars and slugs. Fine mesh netting can be placed around the desired tomatoes. Try neem oil or a homemade insect repellent (concentrate chilli and garlic, diluted with water). Organic pesticide containing pyrethrins and pyrethrums can be used if infestations become unmanageable.

Chemical treatment

Persistent products include synthetic molecules and possess a contact mode of action, meaning they need to touch the insect to work (e.g. cypermethrin, phenothrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and deltamethrin). Please consider if chemical control is really necessary. If a chemical option is sought, check with your local garden centre and please take care to follow the manufacturers' instructions. Check with your local regulating body for guidance on active ingredients and their authorisation for use. Plants that are in flower should never be sprayed due to the dangers they pose to pollinating insects.

Attracts

Sometimes they can be pests of tomato plants.
Some red Solanum lycopersicum tomatoes in a garden

Tomato

Solanum lycopersicum

Stinging Nettle

Urtica dioica

Fat-Hen

Chenopodium album

A pink Geranium robertianum flower and green leaves

Herb Robert

Geranium robertianum

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale

Rumex

Rumex spp.

Repels

Birds, bats, reptiles and predatory insects will eat these moths and caterpillars.

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