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Destructive Beauty

July 30th, 2008

Tomato Hornworms are HUGE (this one was 5 inches long)!!! I found 2 on my tomato plants the other day (and the biggest one I’ve ever seen on my pepper plant). Before smashing him I took a few photos. They are really beautiful worms, such vibrant colors and detailed markings. They will however eat through a tomato plant faster than you can believe.

How can you tell if there’s a hornworm on your tomato? You’ll see evidence of eaten plants and fruit, you’ll also see “castings” on the leaves below the worms. You have to look hard to find them. They are perfectly camouflaged on the vines. One of my tomato vines is about a foot shorter than the others and one of the tomatoes was half eaten.

This is what a casting looks like.

If you happen to find a tomato hornworm that has little white things on it’s back that look like tic-tacs, let it live. Those white things are the eggs of a beneficial wasp, they’ll hatch out and eat the worm. Last year I had these on my hornworms, I haven’t yet this year. Beware when grabbing them (I usually just cut off the branch they’re on), Mr Chiots tried to get the one off the pepper plant with a stick and the worm started attacking the stick.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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