HELP! I have hornworms in my tomatoes!

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by JanO, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I just found a whole bunch of green, fat, ungly hornworms in my tomatoes. I think I found them early enough where they haven't had a chance to do much damage, but how do I get rid of them? I have fruit in various stages of ripening so I'm afraid to use "Seven" or any other chemical on them. What should I do???
     
  2. tonto

    tonto Well-Known Member

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    I just pick them off and then dispose of them.
     

  3. GRHE

    GRHE Mountain Ogre

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    I agree, horn worms are fairly easy to pick by hand, then mash them. If you find any with white eggs on them though, see if you can save it. The eggs are form parisitic wasps that will help keep them under control in the future. Do like a kid with lightning bugs, mason jar with airholes in the lid. When the eggs kill the worm, toss it back into the garden so the wasps will hatch where they will help. If you check every 2-3 days the worms won't do any real damage. The pesticides that will kill the hornworms will also wipe out your bees and earthworms, both os which you really want.
     
  4. Ed in S. AL

    Ed in S. AL Well-Known Member

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    Get some aluminuim foil and wrap the bottom six inches of each plant. They can't stand the stuff. You can usually find them buried in the ground under each plant if you don't see them on the bush.
     
  5. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pick and squish - it's a horrible job but someone has to do it :)
    It's best to get them in the morning - easier to spot - look for poo pellets. When you kill a 'piller always brush the poo off the plant, then when you next do your rounds you will know if there is another 'piller.
    Absolutely agree with GRHE - we leave the ones with eggs on the plant - they tend to stop eating pretty quick once the wasp gets them.
     
  6. Linda Camello

    Linda Camello Well-Known Member

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    Oh no!! Please pick them off and give them to your chickens or turkeys!!! They are hilarious and go absolutely crazy with them!! :haha: It's so much fun watching them get that worm and fight over it!!
     
  7. Like Linda, I pick mine (actually I kind of thunk them into a coffee can) and than give them to the chickens. They are easiest found early in the morning when they come to the outer aspects of the plants to feed. They tend to hid out in the heat of the day.
     
  8. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    That was me above.......weird.....never logged out but now I can't stay logged in.
     
  9. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My wife gets rid of them without poison or even touching them. She goes down the tomato row looking for signs that one has been eating the leaves. Then she looks until she spots the bugger. That's when she takes her old sissors and whacks him in two in the middle. THE END
     
  10. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    " That's when she takes her old sissors and whacks him in two in the middle. THE END"

    eeeeeeeeowwwwwwwwwwwww.....doesn't she get squirted with the green stuff????
     
  11. Bret F

    Bret F Well-Known Member

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    When I was a kid, I would pick them off into a can.
    Then it was a toss up weather to sit them on a firecracker and have green goo fly everywhere, or let the chickens play tug-of-war with them.
    Ahh, the things we did as kids.
     
  12. GRHE

    GRHE Mountain Ogre

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    When I was a kid my Grandparents had about half an acre of their huge garden in tomatoes. On summer weekends the rule was that you had to pick hornworms before you could go fishing at the farm, so every morning the coffee cans would be waiting on the front step at dawn. We were also expected to count as we squished. The cans would then be left out on the fencepost and the birds would clean them out for us. A typical weekend would be 1500-2000 worms. Graps would keep a chart as he would threaten to resort to Sevin if we went over 3000 in a weekend, but even back then he knew how bad that would be for the bees and he did not want to loose them. I sure wish we had known back then that the eggs were parisitic wasps, we thought they were the worm eggs, so we made sure we would crush all the eggs too :no: . I can tell you this though, the fish hated them. My Grandmom laughed for years about my insisting on trying to use them for bait when the fish would not touch them. I did find a snapping turtle though that just thought they were great.
     
  13. Dchall_San_Anto

    Dchall_San_Anto Active Member

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    There is an organic solution that won't pollute anything. In fact, besides chickens, there are three organic solutions.

    1. Bacillus thuringiensis (buh-SILL-us thur-in-gee-EN-sis) is a bacterial infection that only kills caterpillars. It is called BT (for obvious reasons), BT Worm Killer, Dipel (I think), or any of a number of other names that don't come to mind right now. You dust it on and, as the worms crawl over it, they get infected, immediately stop eating, turn gray, and die in a couple days. If you stay with an organic program, you might never have to reapply as the BT will remain alive in the soil in enough numbers to continue killing the hornworms year after year. However, if you us insecticide, herbicide, or any kind of antiseptic (alcohols or soaps) around the tomatoes it will kill the BT.

    2. Paper wasps feed primarily on caterpillars. If you can keep all the paper wasps under your eaves and in your trees, you may never have to worry about horn worms again. Paper wasps are very sociable insects. The only wasps you really have to watch out for are the ones that live in the ground. They get excited by just about everything. Paper wasps are very nice unless you harass them on purpose.

    3. Install a bird bath next to the tomatoes. I realize the birds might go for the tomatoes, so you have to train them away from that. Hang some red Christmas tree decorations in the bushes all the time so that the birds will be first attracted to, and then repelled by, the unappetizing plastic balls.

    An interesting organic spray that seems to do wonders in keeping your plants immunized from pests is liquid seaweed. Apply every other week during the growing season.
     
  14. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Something must be wrong with my chickens - they will not eat the hornworms. Believe me I would not be squishing if the girls were going their job! :no:
     
  15. LOL you know as soon as I read the first post I remembered that throwing them to the chickens is exactly what my mother and grandmother did with them. I've been planting a garden here for 15 years, and this is the first time I've had them... guess I need a reminder.

    I don't have chickens anymore, west nile virus is too rampant around here right now... but I do have a few bird feeders. I threw them up in the feeders and I swear that the wild birds were afraid of them. That only lasted for a few minutes though, next thing I knew they were fighting over them and flying around playing tag with them. LOL It was the funniest thing I think I've seen wild birds do.
     
  16. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    OOPS that was me in the above post... I'm on hubby's computer and I forgot to log in.... :eek: Blond Moment! :haha: