You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Tomato hornworms devouring tomatoes


As expected, after the rains comes the disease. However, the good news is that since the weather has turned to the dry side, the tomato diseases that I have been battling have actually stopped progressing.

My tomatoes look pretty horrible, but I have been able to clean off the dead leaves and salvage the reset of the season. That is until the next rainy period or crazy weather pattern.

Gardening is always a challenge but look at all of the great things we learn each year, right!

If you have tomatoes, be on the lookout for the giant hornworm caterpillars on the plants. They can devour numerous leaves in a single day.

These giant caterpillars (both tobacco and tomato hornworm) are actually pretty cool because of their size. They are the larvae of sphinx moths and grow to around 4” long and about 1/2” in diameter, making them an impressive catch in the garden world.

They get their name hornworm from the horn-like appendage that sticks out from the end of their abdomen.

Despite their size, they are sometimes hard to find as their green color blends nicely into the foliage. I look for their telltale frass (bug droppings) on the ground around the tomato plants.

Their frass is about the size of bb bun pellets, black and barrel-shaped. I usually find this before I can find the pesky caterpillar.

The other telltale sign is significant amounts of missing leaves or even chunks taken out of the fruit. I once blamed a mouse for this until I found the caterpillars.

Once you find these insects the easiest thing is to handpick and squish. Make sure you have someone who is not squeamish do the squishing!

I asked Natheta Mercer, one of our Master Gardener volunteers, to pose for a photo of her foot stomping a small cabbage moth caterpillar and then asked her to do the follow-up squish so that I could get the photo to teach people this method. She about died, thought I have to admit, it was pretty smushy and gross.

If you find the caterpillar and it has white cottony-like tiny ovals lined on its back, leave it alone. This is actually a good thing!

The white cottony like things are actually pupal cases of a tiny parasitoid wasp. The adult wasp hunts for these caterpillars to lay her eggs and inserts them into the caterpillars.

As the eggs hatch and larvae develop, they eat the inside of the caterpillar leading to of course, death of the caterpillar. How cool is that?

The wasps then pupate outside of the body of the caterpillar and emerge as adults to continue their foraging.

In the integrated pest management (IPM) world, this is allowing a beneficial insect to take out the bad pest. By allowing them to finish their development on the back of the caterpillar, you encourage populations of the biological to continue to do their work.

Isn’t Mother Nature very cool?


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Home Garden

8 ways to boost the health of summer get-togethers
8 ways to boost the health of summer get-togethers

Ah, summer! It’s time to kick back and get together at backyard bashes, picnics in the park and parades on the Fourth of July. Here are some tips on how to keep those celebrations as healthy as they are fun. Get everybody moving. Organize gatherings around activities that get guests on their feet. “Explore a local trail together or, if...
Skin cancer on rise for tweens and teens
Skin cancer on rise for tweens and teens

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. In the past 30 years, more people have developed skin cancer than all other cancers combined. It can be easy to think that it’s not a deadly disease, but the truth is one person dies from a form of skin cancer called melanoma every hour, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. It’s a trend...
What to do after getting a new computer

Whether you’re finally replacing your old Windows XP or Vista machine, your system crashed, or you’re simply getting another computer, here are some things to do after getting unpacking that new system: Install a good antivirus Though Windows 10 comes with basic antivirus protection, you should really consider installing something better...
PARENTING WITH DR. RAMEY: Good news about our kids

Media attention brings an immediacy and intensity to the serious problems confronting our kids. That’s mostly helpful, but sometimes results in the mistaken belief that these are the worst of times for kids and families. They’re not. How about some good news about our children based upon some recently published research? 1. Bullying. The...
Coupon deals of the week
Coupon deals of the week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. Barilla Ready Pasta This week at Walgreens, Barilla Ready Pasta is on sale two for $3. Use the $1 off two Barilla pastas coupon found in most of today’s RedPlum inserts. With this savings, you will pay just $1 per package when you buy two in total. Butterball...
More Stories