Tomato Pests

The funny thing about people is that sometimes we make things so hard on ourselves.  I grow a lot of different vegetables and by the far the hardest to grow are tomatoes.  What is the most popular vegetable to grow in the U.S. though?  Tomatoes!  There are so many diseases and pests that affect tomatoes and yet we continue to invest in them.  Notice I say "we" as I will not stop either.  Fresh tomatoes right off the vine are just soooo good. 

One of the big tomato pests that I have a problem with is tomato horn worms. They can devour a entire tomato plant within days.  You can leave on vacation and come back a few days later to find your tomato plants reduced to sticks.  By the beginning of June, I start inspecting the plants for the horn worms and I do this almost every day.  I found a large tomato horn worm yesterday on the 'Sun Gold' tomato plant.  They get about as large as your pinky finger.  They blend in with the plant as they are exactly the same color.  Below is another one I found this morning on the same plant.  This one was much younger and much smaller.
 They will eat through the tomatoes....
 And devour the leaves on the plant as well.....
Finding a branch without leaves is the tell tale sign that you have one or more tomato horn worms.  So what do you do when you find one?  I pick them off which is what most experts recommend doing.  One even said, feed them to your chickens.  Well, I don't have any chickens!   I'm that girl that just can't squish a bug either, especially a LARGE bug.  I read to put them in a bucket full of water and drown them.  Well, I tried that too, but I watched the little guy slashing around in the water and I just couldn't do it.  I ended up throwing the bucket of water with the horn worm in the woods. Experts also recommend leaving them right where they are and letting parasitic wasps lay their eggs on the worm.  As the eggs metamorphasize they digest the host worm. They are easy to spot.  You can plainly see the white eggs on the back of the worm.  I have seen this happen in previous years here in my garden.  However, you don't want to wait too long for a parasitic wasp to come along or your tomato plant will be a goner. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't find any more and that the ones in the woods don't find their way back.


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