Posted on: July 29, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster |
A tomato hornworm can defoliate a plant in a few days and will even munch on the tomatoes themselves. To me, they are one of the coolest looking pests in the garden; to others … not so much.
They can be hard to find. Usually gardeners will notice missing foliage and the droppings of the caterpillar. It won’t be far from either place, but the pest is brilliantly camouflaged. They can be picked off easily by hand. I used to put them in a jar with air holes in the lid along with some more foliage and send them into school.
If one is found with rice like cocoons on the worm, don’t kill it. These are parasitic wasps that will feed on the hornworm. By the time the cocoons have appeared, the work is probably done feeding or will be soon.
By leaving the caterpillar alone, it will perpetuate the parasitic wasps, which will help control the pest year after year. Good bugs eating the bad bugs is a good thing about being an organic gardener.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.