This is how he knew something was up...leaves totally stripped from the top of a very healthy tomato plant.
So now, each evening we have a garden "date" in which we look for these guys.
Want to know more about the tomato hornworm?
The tomato hornworm and the tobacco hornworm are very similar and both eat tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant and peppers. Both are big...3-4 inches long. Both become a type of sphinx moth which are about the size of a humming bird so they are sometimes call hummingbird moths. Tomato horn worms have "v" shaped marks and a black horn on its rear end. Tobacco horn worms have diagonal white stripes and a red horn on its rear end. Tomato horn worms are usually in the north and tobacco horn worms are usually in the south.
Life cycle of a hornworm:
- The good news is that there is only one life cycle per season, unlike the vine borer.
- The bad news is that the moths overwinter in the soil as dark brown pupae, so you will probably deal with them year after year.
- They emerge and mate in late spring
- They lay their eggs, which are round and greenish-white, on the undersides of leaves.
- The eggs hatch in four to five days, and the hornworm emerges. It spends the next four weeks growing to full size.
- Then it digs its way into the ground for the winter.
- You'll probably notice the effects of the hornworm before the hornworm itself - so a daily walk through your garden is beneficial.
- Since they are large the best way of getting rid of them is to just pick them off. You can then either squish them, feed them to the chickens (our preferred method) or put them in a jar, feed them and watch them become a moth (we might do this...once)
- If the infestation is large you could use some bt (also known as Dipel Dust) to help get rid of them.
- Parasitic wasps are great! If you see a hornworm with little white eggs or grubs on them don't kill it. Those are parasitic wasps and they will really be helpful in your garden. (This is why it's important not to use insecticides on your garden) If you don't want them you can send them my way.
- If you notice that you have a problem year after year and you don't already till, try tilling your garden a couple of times before spring planting to destroy the pupae.
How do you keep the pests down in your garden?
To see more great gardens and gardening tips check out Tuesday Garden Party.