Seems like these pests are coming out and feeding on our plants again. AND they’re getting bigger and bigger – from 2 to 4 inches we’ve seen!
Tomato Hornworms can be found in most any region of the U.S. and can ruin your tomato crop in record time; they also feed on eggplant, peppers, and potato. They can blend in quite easily with the green foliage and feed non-stop, creating spotty and chewed leaves and fruit. When disturbed, the hornworm will rear up and wave its horn in a threatening display to deter predators.
Here are some ways the Hornworms cause damage:
Tomato is the host of choice, but they have also been found on potato, eggplant and pepper.
There are many weeds that serve as alternate hosts, including horsenettle, jimsonweed and nightshade.
Large numbers of caterpillars can occur in home gardens and can quickly defoliate plants.
Tomato hornworm caterpillars start feeding on the leaves on the upper parts of the plants.
The caterpillars blend in with the leaves and might not be noticed until most of the damage is done.
As they feed, they create dark green or black droppings that are clearly visible.
Older tomato hornworms can destroy several leaves as well as the fruit.
As they become larger, the amount of defoliation increases.
The last caterpillar stage consumes nearly as much as all the younger stages combined.
There are Natural enemies that can help manage hornworms:
General predatory insects such as lady beetles and green lacewings often prey upon the egg stage and on young caterpillars.
Another important predator is the paper wasp, Polistes spp. This common wasp feeds on many types of caterpillars including those found in gardens.
If you see them, just pick them off with a pair of gloves (because they have a horn) and feed them to the birds or spray them with any type of organic insecticide or conventional spray. Stop by and ask our gardening experts what product they recommend for your needs.
Here’s THIS MONTHS ZODIAC SIGN PROFILE AND HOW IT CAN HELP YOU GARDEN:
LEO (July 23 to August 22) Leo settles, or deepens, the summer. With your sunny disposition, Jerusalem artichokes, black-eyed Susans, and sunflowers adorn your gardens and are quite easy for you to grow. Leos never do things halfheartedly, so massive and extensive displays of orange gaillardia, poppies, marigolds, and/or zinnias grace your front walkways and patio beds. Astalwart soul, you take great pride in your surroundings and desire to have the best in the neighborhood. Your zest for living can be seen in the salsas, gazpachos, and saffron dishes produced in your grandiose kitchen. Expect a large bottle of hot sauce to reside there as well.