Tomato hornworms

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Meg Z, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Last year I had just a couple tomato plants, and droves of hornworms. I pulled worms every morning, and fed them to the chickens. Rarely, I would find one with the parasitic wasp offspring attached, and leave it. Like, three of four the entire season.

    This year I have somewhere around 50 tomato plants. I hunt for tomato worms every morning. Last years chickens hover outside the fence. This year I have found 6 hornworms, and three of them had wasps. The chickens were not pleased (well, except for three of them! :haha: )

    I love it!

    Meg
     
  2. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    One secret that organic farmers use to significantly reduce their tomato hornworm problem is to plant the herb basil all around the tomato patch.


    The hornworm apparantly does not like the smell of the basil, so it avoids the area where basil is planted.
     

  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    I'd love to find some of the parasitic wasps in my garden. This year the hornworms decided to add variety to their diets by eating on my eggplants and bell peppers as well as my tomatoes.

    For something so doggone big they can sure be hard to spot at times when they're hiding and I'm looking for them.

    .....Alan.
     
  4. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have tobacco hornworms on my tomatoes (tobacco hornworms have red horns, tomato hornworms have black horns). I pick them twice a day - morning and evening. The chickens love me for it and hubby now understands why I wanted the chicken pen out at the garden!

    Last week was when I first discovered the hungry things devouring my tomato plants and every day I picked and picked. I had to leave Sunday to visit my parents for a few days, but only found one tobacco hornworm before I left. Hubby thought I had found them all, but I knew better. Sure enough, got home yesterday and found 12 big ones eating away at my poor tomatoes. Found four Colorado potato beetles too. Had seven happy chickens though!
     
  5. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    Those things are absolutely hideous! I've never dealt with them until this year, and despite picking them morning and night, I'm afraid my tomato crop is going to be a loss.

    How can they eat so much so quickly?

    Nikki
     
  6. texastami

    texastami Zone 7B Supporter

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    I admit, I don't know much about gardening..... and well, I planted tomatoes this year.. but we were getting eaten up by caterpillars and bugs who thought my tomatoes were their personal dining buffet....

    My DM told me to sprinkle black pepper on the leaves and the new blossoms..... it helped (about 1/2 as much damage) but didn't CURE it.... still losing leaves and blossoms every day!

    My MIL told me to use CAYENNE pepper on the leaves and blossoms.... I haven't lost a blossom or leaf in at least 4 weeks!! My tomatoes finally have at least 15 blossoms each!! HOORAY!!! My grape tomatoes are doing great as well!! JUST BE SURE TO REAPPLY AFTER EVERY RAIN!! I water at the base of each plant so I don't have to do it every day!!!

    I swear by CAYENNE pepper!! And will continue using it throughout the summer... Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application or when you go out picking 'maters, as you will be sorry if you don't!!!! Don't ask me how I know this!!! :)

    Now, if I can just figure out whats wrong with my watermelon blossoms, I would be thrilled!!!

    EDITED TO ADD: You can also make a "cayenne pepper" MIST to spray the UNDERSIDE of the plant leaves... it also works very well!! :) You can even sprinkle around base of plant to discourage CRAWLY visitors such as beetles...
     
  7. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    If you want to go the cayenne pepper route, WalMart sells big, one gallon jugs of Louisiana hot sauce for about four bux.


    You can take some of that hot sauce, put it in a sprayer, put some liquid dishwashing detergent in it (to help the spray stick to the leaves), then dilute with water.


    That is a very cheap, but effective, way of treating the hornworms after they infest your plants.


    IF YOU WANT TO PREVENT HORNWORMS IN THE FIRST PLACE, however, plant many basil plants right there among your tomato plants when you are setting up your garden in the spring. I plant basil on all sides of the tomato plants, and I do not have a single hornworm on any of my appx. 20 or so tomato plants.
     
  8. texastami

    texastami Zone 7B Supporter

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    I definitely will remember the BASIL BEFORE PLANTING tip!! Writing it down in my gardening book right now!! Will have to maintain the CAYENNE pepper route for the remainder of this year anyway!!

    Thanks!
     
  9. Buckrun

    Buckrun Well-Known Member

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    I have also heard that smoking in the garden draws the tobaco hornworm moth to lay her eggs. Since I quit smoking my cigars in the garden I haven't seen very many of the hornworms.
    Steve
     
  10. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'll be in the garden first thing in the morning spraying my tomato plants with hot sauce. The darn hornworms are eating the green tomatoes now! ARGGGGGGG!!! Plus I've got grasshoppers and stink bugs on them. :bash: Hand picking is killing my back and beginning to feel like a losing battle.

    Will definitely plant basil and marigolds all around my tomatoes next year (planted marigolds, but they didn't come up).
     
  11. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Found me another hornworm yesterday. I know there are more that I haven't found in the tomato jungle, but it's okay. The population is so low that I can't find any damage to the leaves at all! The basil is a bit too far away to be of any use, but the wasps are out in force.

    Now the tomatoes are starting to ripen, and I will soon be overwhelmed with the need to can!

    Meg
     
  12. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    My chickens won't eat them, they act scared when I throw them into the pen.

    My deer, however, will. :rolleyes: It's really gross, they squirt everywhere.
     
  13. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    Southerngurl,

    The mental visual of that scene made me really giggle.

    Nikki
     
  14. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    I don't know if hot pepper spray will deter hornworms or not. The dang things have eaten about five of my jalapeno plants to INCLUDE the peppers!

    Found one yesterday on one of my potted jalpenos as long as my finger.

    .....Alan.
     
  15. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Southerngurl...my chickens said your chickens have no idea what culinary delights they're missing out on and urge you to send all your hornworms to them and stop wasting them on deer.
     
  16. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hey people! Don't kill the hornworms that have the parasytic (sp?) wasp eggs on them! They are are making your predators which will keep hornworms in check. Just move those hornworms onto some weed away from your tomatoes.
     
  17. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I haven't found a worm yet with any wasp eggs. :waa: