(updated Saturday, August 6, 2022)


 The Tomato Hornworm

(The name “horn” worm comes from the signature horn at the worm’s hind end. )

(photo taken recently by Farmer Tom)

       

     Everyone is asking about tomatoes.  Tomatoes are the most popular request we get each summer.  If only they ripened earlier but we must wait a few more days, especially for those delicious eating tomatoes.  Tom found this hungry muncher on one of the tomato plants this week.  Hornworms can destroy tomato plants; they are voracious eaters. 
        But this upside-down little guy is in trouble.  Those white oval objects attached to its back are cocoons of a parasitic wasp.  The process of the wasp’s development is a gory one but the bottom line is the destruction of the hornworm.  Hornworms are to be removed from tomato plants but when this situation is discovered, the hornworm is to be left alone to its fate with hope that the emerging wasps attach to other hornworms, managing the hornworm issue, the natural way.

       On the other hand, if a hornworm is not destroyed (naturally or with a helping hand), it will become a five-spotted hawk or sphinx moth.  Only seen at night, the moth will bother nothing (the damage already done while in a caterpillar stage).  The interesting-looking moth will take nectar from plants and is also called a hummingbird moth because of the resemblance to a hummingbird.         Because of photo copyrights and restraints on personal photos seen on-line, I can’t share a photo confidently but if you want to view one, goggle “five-spotted hawk moth”.
          Several years ago, Spouse of Farmer Tom removed a tomato hornworm from a plant and placed it with some greens in a jar.  The moth developed but alas, no photo was taken.  And yes, I released the moth to enjoy the nectar from the back yard.

GOOD BUG or BAD BUG? 

           This bug is definitely a bad bug because of its huge appetite for tomato plants.

But….

…..if the unusual sight of this 4″ – 6″ wing span moth is seen one night, it’s a real smiler. 

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A REMINDER:  The spotted lantern fly is advancing to adulthood.  We’ve been warning folks of their development through various stages and now is the time when the adults are easier to view.  We continue to recommend that you smoosh them.

 

>   This adult insect was killed on our deck in October, 2020. 

 

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