Friday, August 6, 2010

For Real?

If you are a bit squeamish, then this post might not be for you.

Besides my garden , I have a large pot that I usually grow tomatoes in, by my back door. I bought a lovely tomato plant this year, but with all the other flowers that I delayed planting, it started looking kind of scraggly. After I finally planted it, within a few days it started perking up quite a bit. Things were looking up and I thought that I would get some good tomatoes!

Earlier this week I noticed that some of the little tomatoes were getting eaten up. I thought that maybe there was some kind of little bug was eating them. I picked the bad ones hoping that would make things better. A few days ago I noticed that the tops of the plant were being eaten off. Oh Joy! I figured that some large animal was snacking on my tomato plant. We do have a lot of wild life around here!

Let me break here and ask really nicely that you do not laugh too hard at my expense! I try to garden, but really I have no idea what I am doing!

Anyway, about 2 days ago Matthew asked me if I saw the caterpillar that was on my tomato plant. I said no, but at the time I was busy and did not pay a whole lot of attention to him. Then yesterday he said the caterpillar was still there and asked me if I ever saw it. A little later I went out and found this creature.

See the horn!

Actually, there were three of them!

Isn't this one interesting?

I had to get on the Internet and research what these things were. So I typed in caterpillar and tomato plant and I immediately found out what it was!  It is called a Tomato Hornworm. Interesting! Then I found pictures that looked so much like mine. What are those white things on that one? After reading further I found this info here.

Because the hornworm is so large (about the size of a pinkie finger), the easiest way to get rid of him is to simply remove him from the plant and dispose of him. You may be lucky enough to attract parasitic wasps to your garden who will do the job for you. Parasitic wasps won't hurt you.

A natural predator of the tomato hornworm is a tiny beneficial insect called the braconid wasp. This wasp lays its eggs inside the hornworm. As they hatch, they eat their way out, killing the hornworm in the process. It's a bit off-putting to see this creature on your plants, but you're better off letting him be and letting the wasps do their job. Once they hatch, they'll be enough braconid wasps to keep your garden hornworm free.

OK, so I didn't follow instructions very well. First I waited for hubby to get home so he could see them for himself! He didn't seem too impressed. Then I asked him if he could remove them and squash them. After much begging some sweet talk, he did the squashing! I did not watch, but I heard that they squirted a whole bunch when squashed! Thought you really wanted to know that!

This has been a fun interesting Summer in the creature department around here!



croleyc69 said...

Wow I have seen those before and it brought back memories of when my dad was alive and we planted garden. I think my Dad put some type of dust on the tomato plants to keep those worms off. I remember one yr they were really bad. My brother loved to get rid of them and always wanted us to watch. Boys are something else. Anyway it was a really great post. I love gardening I just wish it wasn't so dry here where we live now.

Thanx for sharing and lots of luck with the rest of your gardening. I think you do a great job. :)


Karin said...

Ummm..thanks? for sharing pictures of your bugs. :) It is nice to read everyday posts like this where the biggest news is the size of the worm! I notice that tomato hornworm is now a label. Will there be more posts in this same category?! Have a great weekend!

Verna said...

Oh, I hate those worms...... I tried growing tomatoes at a former apartment and had a bug do the same thing to me....I so wanted to have those tomatoes rippen so we could eat them.

Mom used to have us check plants and take them off before they could eat and destroy our food.

Hopefully you will have better sucess next time.

~mom2seven~ said...

I've noticed these strange-looking worms on our tomato plants too. I told the children about your post because we were wondering what they were. I'm just glad we know what they are now so we can find ways to get rid of them. They are not very attractive insects!

Have a nice day:)

Holly said...

Ewww I bet that was gross when they were squished!!