09 July 2013

The Tomato Hornworm: Enemy to Your Garden

This is the tomato hornworm:

"I must eat your pepper plant! Nom nom nom..."
I found this guy in our garden this morning, and I never invited him.

Every year, our tomato and pepper plants suffer limb-stripping from the hornworm. Do you know how frustrating it is to go on a garden walk a notice tomato stems completely void of their leaves? Hornworm be damned for messing up our tomatoes' chances at proper photosynthesis!

And when you follow the stripped limbs to find the culprit, they are a booger to find against the remaining foliage, especially if they're still small. As you can see from the photo, this morning's hornworm find wasn't terribly difficult because he's obviously been feasting on a smorgasbord of veggie leaves. Sure, they grow into cool-looking moths, but this isn't your typical cuddly caterpillar. Hornworms will buck at you when you try to pluck them off, and they have a nasty red hook on their tails (hence, their name). They don't even leave behind tiny caterpillar poos. They will crap all over your garden with giant hornworm poop called frass.

Yes, you read that right. There is an official name for hornworm poop.

This guy is out to destroy your crop. You must seek and destroy, but try to avoid insecticide if at all possible. They can kill the pollinating bees and butterflies you actually need. So when you come across a hornworm, pluck him off the plant and kill him. If you try to be nice to him and toss him in the woods, he will just come back. But he'll be pissed that you made him walk all that way and he'll be hungrier than before. So stomp on him with your boot. Cut him in half with your garden sheers. Impale him with a stick.



1 comment:

A. Hab. said...

Yuck. He looks like he'd sort of goosh everywhere....

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