Monday, May 14, 2012

Garden Seeds // Beware: Tomato Hornworms

Last week I was casually making the rounds in my garden when I noticed, from a distance, that my pepper plants looked terrible.  At closer glance, I found four tomato hornworms on my three plants.  I had checked my plants that morning, and within a six-hour span of time, they had eaten more than half of each plant.

A fascinating and beautiful caterpillar, but not one you want in your garden!  They are a major pest.

The tomato hornworm appears in warmer weather, May - August.  They are bright green, with a distinguishing "horn" on their rear side.  They typically are about three inches long and one-half inch wide.  Despite their size, they blend in very well with the green foliage of plants.  Look closely!  You can even use a black light at night to locate them.  They transform into a large, five-spotted, grey moth called a Manduca quinquemaculata.

Hornworms are found on tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tobacco and potato plants.  I have only seen them on tomatoes and peppers in my experience.

Simply pluck these caterpillars off your plant - immediately!  They have a tight grip.   I would not recommend using any type of spray on them since they prey upon edible plants.  Remove them instantly as they can consume a large amount of foliage and will destroy your plant in no time.  As I mentioned, I estimate they were on my pepper plants for six hours.  This photo shows the destruction in that time.  Two-thirds of this pepper plant is gone and I doubt it will recover.

Hornworm hunting is a favorite among children.  Give them a magnifying glass and send them into your garden.  I offer a reward for every one they find!

Happy Hunting!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I totally found one of these on my tomatoes last year! I was completely traumatized. They look like they could take a chunk out of your hand!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...