I've been invaded by a red horned caterpillar!

My garden is under attack!  Yes, that green monster in the photo is now my enemy.  It is called the "tomato hornworm" and yes, many of them have decided that my tomatoes will be their buffet!

It's been a few days since I have been out to my garden as I've had a head cold.  Since I believe that I am healed, I thought I'd put some walk to my talk and get off of my behind.  I went out to my garden only to find a gob (how many is that anyway?) of these dudes eating my tomato plants down to their scrawny little stems.

I read on some  websites about these little buggers.  They can grow to about 4 inches long and are the larvae of a huge moth called the "hummingbird moth."  If left on your plants, they will eat them alive!

As I found more and more of these green monsters, I noticed that some of them were covered in little white eggs.  I said, "Oh no you don't!  You are not laying eggs and making more monsters to eat my tomatoes."

After I picked as many as I could see, about 20, I put them in a bucket and told my son to "extinguish" them.  He thought he would do it humanely and just fill up the bucket with water.  Well... that didn't work.  I told him to take them to the driveway, get a brick and squish them.  Gaaarrroooosss! Gross!

After everything settled down around here I began my research.  I was pleased to see that I didn't just freak out and squish these things.  That is exactly how you get rid of them.  Pick and stomp!

Then I found out that those aren't eggs of the green worm.  They are eggs of a wasp!  What?!  The wasp lays its eggs on the back of this worm and the wasp larvae actually eat away the worm and kill it.

Isn't nature interesting?  God is so creative!  I learn a great lesson that I will have to keep in mind for next years' tomato crops and I was able to teach the boys all about it.

Have your tomatoes ever been invaded by these things?

Photo credit 1
Photo credit 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The white things on the red hornworm's back are a parasite that will emerge as a wasp. The wasps will spread the parasite to more red hornworms, so essentially you want these worms with the parasite around. Purdue University has good info on their site.http://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/ppdl/weeklypics/8-27-07.html

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