The Tomato Hornworm

by Amy

This little bugger is not a friend to your garden and is probably one of the most well-known garden pests around.  In the 10 years I’ve been planting tomatoes, I’ve actually not had any issues with them, but this year was a little different.

Overnight, my tomato plants went from full and lush, to stripped down to the point they were almost unrecognizable.  Now, I consider myself lucky.  I had over 40 tomato plants in the ground, so the ones that were munched down, didn’t really affect my overall production.  And, we noticed them soon enough that a few of the plants actually grew new leaves and have actually started to produce fruit.  Smaller gardens may not have fared so well so that’s just another reason to be sure to check the foliage on your garden plants every single day.

Tomatoes aren’t the only thing tomato hornworms eat.  I knew I had read in one of my gardening books that they would also eat potato plants, since they are both in the same family, but I had never actually seen them there.  Well, that is, until this summer.  I enlisted the help of the hubster when I noticed the hornworm invasion on the tomatoes and we went out and painstakingly looked over each and every plant.  I had one jar that only had five worms in it, but I tilted it a little to far and the next thing I knew, I looked at the jar and there were only four.  We searched and searched for the escapee, but with no luck.  I knew he’d be back on the tomatoes soon, so I kept a close watch.

Well, I didn’t find him on the tomatoes, but the potatoes! (That’s him in the above photo…on the potato plant.)  I think it was near the potato plants that he actually fell out of the jar, so of course, that’s where he ended up.  We picked him off the potato plant and disposed of him.  And now, I’m happy to say, we are tomato hornworm free on both the tomatoes and potatoes!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

stephanie December 6, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Those worms scare me! We have an ornamental potato vine in the backyard, and as the chickens like the purple flowers, I was picking some to feed to them when all of a sudden a huge one dropped right by my hand. I shrieked and flung that particular branch away from me and one of our chickens actually caught the thing in midair and gobbled it up, adding yet another facet to my love of those useful birds. It wasn’t fun watching her struggle to swallow it though. Yuck.

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Ellen Noreen December 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I am disappointed that this catapiler is being given such a bad rap. This is the catapiler of the Luna moths, a vary beautiful light green moth. In some areas they are uncomon. They do not bite, scratch or
harm humans. One can easly remove these catapilers from the graden and move to a different location.
When I find them I simply put then in a jar, let my grandchildren see some beautiful nature. Take them to park park with trees and let them go. Hopfully my grandchildren can see later, after they ture into a large and beautiful work of nature.

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