Hornworms number two, three, four, five …

Here’s an update to the earlier post, First Hornworm on a Tomato. While inspecting my tomato plants with one of my sons who is also growing some of my home-grown tomato starts, I again noticed the tell-tale brown droppings of a caterpillar. Further inspection with my son’s eagle eyes identified these …

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Four good size hornworms. We also spotted three, much smaller, hornworms that are now squished or drowning in a water bath. Notice the munched leaf edge in the upper right large leaf? That’s another sign that hornworms are present. If you see tomato leaves stripped to their veins, look for a hornworm of this size. These are from 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

I’m going to place them, leaves and all, atop my compost pile overnight. I’ll check them again in the morning to see if they are still around. I received a tip … thanks, Diane … that sometimes that evidence of the parasitic wasp that uses hornworms as a breeding ground may not be evident to the naked eye for a few days after the wasp has deposited its brood. Rather than destroy my find, I’ll give them a couple of days to show if the wasps found them.

If you grow tomatoes, check them. These voracious caterpillars are masters of disguise. It’s easy to look right past one, or two, or three. But keep looking. Chomped off leaves and caterpillar poo are sure signs your tomato is the home of hornworms.

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