User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

GAH! I just squished

3 tomato hornworms. and they make me feel :evil: they were little baby ones. so now the thing is, how many more are on there and am I going to catch them all before they completely ruin my tomato plants. PLUS I'm fighting early blight. this is not a good situation. I sprayed for the blight last week and it is slowly coming back, but really slow. I hope it won't take over the plants.


any advice on the stupid caterpillars?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Best thing for the hornworms is what you are doing... hand pick and squish.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

MaryDel
Senior Member
Posts: 183
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:42 pm
Location: Delaware

If you find a hornworm that's covered with white eggs, don't kill it. Pick it off and move it well away from your garden. The eggs are from a parasitic wasp that attacks hornworms. I've been doing this for ten years in my current spot. I have 63 tomato plants this year and have yet to see any hornworms or hornworm damage.

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

ahh, good idea... thank you!



yeah, I have 30 tomato plants and well... they're already lack of leaf from the blight, so I can't let the hornworms take the rest of the leaves!!!

do you know, do they lay like one egg per plant? or do you think I'll have more than one on each plant? not sure how to know if I got them all..


I've been finding little silvery/blackish eggs that look like miniature bebe's on the top of the leaves, but when I looked up hornworm eggs they weren't that color and they say they are under the leaves... right?

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27490
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Silvery black ones may be eggs on verge of hatching. Butterflies will lay eggs on top of leaves when they are in laying frenzy called "dumping" so moths may as well.

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Don't like squishing? Drop them in a cup of soapy water, just be sure not to spill it in the garden :lol:.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

Only 3?
I found that many on a single plant! Joking, but on one I did find two on the same leaf! And some plants had more than just one worm type.

I am going to town today to replace my bottle of Bt, and start weekly sprayings again. I gave it to my son (it was only 1/3 of a bottle from last year) since he had hornworms badly.

I took a large jug to the garden and hand picked the worms, I found budworms, cutworms and hornworms of all sizes. These were not there during the drought, and with the rains, they hatched, and everything I put on them is getting washed off with almost daily showers. So, handpicking can't wash off in the rain! ha ha

I am making worm stew... just soapy water and worms. I plan to cook it in the sun for a bit, strain it and use that to spray my plants...
I am hoping the smell of the worms will lure in predators to eat them! Of course it will wash off in the rain, but maybe the smell will still draw in some predators!
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

well, only 3 so far, they were little ones half an inch long maybe? My tomato plants are a bit of a jungle right now because I didn't expect them to grow so huge and apparently put them too close and I have 30 of them, so yeah... its hard to look for them! and plus if those little eggs were hornworm eggs then I tossed a ton of those last week.


I think I need some BT! where do I buy it?

User avatar
rootsy
Green Thumb
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 5:58 pm
Location: Litchfield, Michigan

Chickens loooove horn worms... put em in a tin can as you pick them off and then dump em in a pile in front of those cluckers and watch the feeding frenzy commence... sick revenge... :twisted:

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

To look for hornwoms... look for worm droppings, you will see little black dots, worm poop, then look above that and find the worm, usually somewhere there.

Bt is bacillus thurgensis (sp?) it is usually sold under various names, that Bt part is the active ingredient, it is a bacterial that only affects worms.
And it only works on little ones, once they outgrow it, it is DE or handpicking, or both. The Bt that I get is called "Thuricide" but it is other names in other brands. I will get it at the Garden store, but some box stores will carry it too. Just check the ingredients on anything that sounds like bacillus thurgensis. DE is diatomaceous earth and it is a powder, that is ground up shells of some sea critter, and it is hard on all bugs, even the good guys, so I am cautious about using this.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

oooh yeah, why didn't I think of giving them to my chickens!??! DOY!!! for sure, next time they're going to the chickens!!

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

Ozark Lady wrote:To look for hornwoms... look for worm droppings, you will see little black dots, worm poop, then look above that and find the worm, usually somewhere there.

Bt is bacillus thurgensis (sp?) it is usually sold under various names, that Bt part is the active ingredient, it is a bacterial that only affects worms.
And it only works on little ones, once they outgrow it, it is DE or handpicking, or both. The Bt that I get is called "Thuricide" but it is other names in other brands. I will get it at the Garden store, but some box stores will carry it too. Just check the ingredients on anything that sounds like bacillus thurgensis. DE is diatomaceous earth and it is a powder, that is ground up shells of some sea critter, and it is hard on all bugs, even the good guys, so I am cautious about using this.
that is how I found the few worms that I did find, I just can't walk through my tomatoes to look for more! LOL!

I have DE but haven't been using it for that reason. I should call around and ask for the BT...

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

found a bunch more this afternoon. those dumb things were chomping on the tomatoes even grr!!! now I did see a weird greyish caterpillar as well. any clue as to what that was?

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

I sprayed my plants with a cocktail of Bt, milk, and fish emulsion on Monday. When I watered today, I found a very large, very dead, and very black hornworm.
I take back what I said about Bt not killing the large ones.
I assumed it had turned into a moth, until I went to remove the shell, it was full of black goo... hey, that wouldn't be there if it turned into a moth. I think the Bt actually did kill it... I stand corrected on saying it won't kill big ones! I was told that it wouldn't, and I believed it... hmmm.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27490
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Actually Ozark Lady, you may not be correct in your assumptions. You see, I brought a tobacco hornworm inside to raise (what can I say :roll: :wink:)

After a few days, it crawled off the leaves and started seeking corners, so I tried giving it a pie plate of soil and leaves and debris, but it wouldn't have any of it -- crawled in the darkest corner between the paper towel and the plastic tub, turned very black but stayed full length for about 36 hours, then started to shrink until it is now nearly 1/3 the original full length as a pupa.

Assuming same process of metamorphosis for moths, the caterpillars basically liquify inside the chrysalis/cocoon prior to reorganizing and metamorphosing into butterfly/moth. I think that's what you found.

Oh! Another thought -- either that or the one you found was already infected by Tachnid fly maggots and the maggots came out of the near-to-pupating body, in which case, the caterpillar/pupa will become liquified and black.

**

sheeshshe, I think the "weird greyish caterpillar" you found is probably a cutworm... a climbing cutworm if it was up climbing around and not curled up in the soil.

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

It was glued to the leaf, and hanging down from it. When I went to knock it off with the stick, it just fell apart, kind of like paper does that has burned black. Except it had this black liquid, inside it.

I looked for more like that, thinking I could get a pic of it, and disect it to see what was going on here.

I was watering, just before I had to cook supper, so no time to search really close. I will seek out more of these strange black hornworms.

Funny mine are tomato hornworms on the tobacco, they have the tomato markings. And you have the tobacco hornworms on tomatoes... :lol:
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
sheeshshe
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 12:17 am
Location: maine

hmmm. yeah, I think it did look like a cutworm! bah! now I'm extra irritated that it got away! (shh I didn't say that part earlier)... the kids took my bucket to bring the worms to the chickens and didn't give it back so I started tossing caterpillars out of the garden and gather them afterwards but yeah, cutworm left his leaf. figures. and I couldn't find it. GRRRR!!!!

now whats he going to do to my garden? he better not flatten something or I'm going to be all :evil:

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27490
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

In my garden, the climbing cutworms usually eat the fruits of tomatoes and the peppers.

OL, what you describe suggests to me that the hornworm was indeed struck down by a Garden Patrol -- it could've been a regular wasp too. It was glued to the leaf because it lost body fluid. External attack due to wasp or bird biting at it, or internal emergence of predatory fly larva. Did you see one or more long sticky spider silk like strings trailing from the carcass? If you did, then definitely tachinid fly maggots rappelling down to the ground.

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

Nope nothing, just the leaf, and the big black hornworm that exploded on contact hanging down from it.
I do have regular wasps on patrol in the main garden, and lots of toads, no other helpers have been seen this year. I know, just because I havent seen them doesn't mean they aren't there.

For your missing cutworm, if it isn't anywhere on the plant, look in the soil right at the plant base. Some cutworms spend the hot days in the soil at the base of the plant. And sometimes you will just have to wait till twilight when they come out to feed to find them.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27490
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

OL, I was studying Monarch caterpillar and chrysalis deaths, and came across [url=http://www.monarchwatch.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1466]this information[/url] . It sounds a lot like your exploding hornworms.

Here's a wiki article : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Polyhedrosis_Virus
And a photo from the same article:
[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a1/CaterpillarNPV.jpg[/img]

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”