Hi, as an organic gardener I grow organically, for a healthy and safe food supply, for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It’s summertime and the garden is in full swing but doesn’t rest on your laurels it’s time to check for pests such as the tomato hornworm.
Tomato hornworm are the larva the sphinx moth and I named after their distinctive horns.
there are generally two generations of a caterpillar with a red horn per year. Hornworms show up in early and late summer and feed on tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other members
The first line of defense are beneficial insects. Green lace wings and ladybugs are predators of the hornworm. Boost the population has been officials by releasing them early in the season and avoiding used to any pesticides that kill beneficial insects.
The last stage or in instar of the hornworm will eat ninety percent of the foliage all the previous stages, so it’s important to evaluate your tomatoes and get those hornworms early. During the hot of the day look at the interior at the plant look towards the exterior in the morning or evening also be alert for the black droppings or frase, that indicates the presence of the worms.
Just pick of any hornworms that you find and you can feed them to the chickens, they love them. If you find a hornworm with lots of white pod sticking out of them, leave it alone the pods mean it has been parasitized by wasps and will soon die and the wasps will spread and destroy other hornworms and pest caterpillars.
The garden-variety paper wasp is also a helpful predator up the horn worms. If you see damage and you know it’s from a hornworm but you can’t find the hornworm consider spraying a product with Bacillus thuringiensis labelled to kill caterpillars.
Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria that attacks caterpillars but leaves other insects such as beneficials alone. A product like this Safer caterpillar killer as an example of a Bt product.
Prevent hornworms from coming back next year by practicing crop rotation and tilling.
Tilling kills ninety percent of the pupae of hornworms in the soil. If you do see a hornworm I know you’ll be amazed at how beautiful they are but they can be treacherous to your tomato crop,