Monday, July 23, 2007

Tobacco Hornworms Strike

The tobacco hornworm caterpillar is probably one of the top pests to the vegetable gardener. A very similar species is the tomato hornworm, but according to the Colorado State extension office, that one has blue-black horns, and 8 white stripes. The tobacco hornworm has a red curved horn and 7 white stripes. This is the adult form.

So far this summer I hadn't seen any, or evidence of their residence in my garden. But alas, just a few days ago I started seeing leaves were missing from the branches of the tomato plants. I wasn't sure if maybe it was from a mammal, or the caterpillars, because the whole end looked bitten off.

They even ate the tomatoes.

But today I spotted them.

Happily, all three that I found were covered in parasitic wasp cocoons. If you find the caterpillars in this condition, remove them from your tomato plants, but put them in the yard somewhere so the wasps can hatch and do their job.

Most of my tomato plants haven't been affected, and I will be rather vigilant now in checking for these guys.

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