please don't treat Bt like it is harmless. It is not a safe preventive. It kills all kinds of caterpillar. Why not pick them off and focus energy on developing biodiversity? The really mangled plant sounds like a good one for keeping a limited population of hornworm for attraction purposes. Wasps need those puppies alive. Next year you could put a tobacciana catch maybe?
I find it odd, that many "chemical" gardeners use their pesticides more judiciously than "organic" gardeners. How many plants are we talking? I can see Bt for 500 plants, restaurant orders in for a year, and out of options. Were organic gardening the law for hobbyists across the USA, I am almost convinced we would face environmental disaster from all the careless and indiscriminate use of lethal products, neem oil, and soap.
s a home garden preventive? I'll tell you the home gardener's best tool - a calendar! Just set a reminder to go pick the tomato bugs and search for eggs. Everything has a life cycle, and if you understand it you can really kick some butt. Maybe a soft bristle toothbrush will work on the eggs. IDK, get creative!
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