Nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies worse than wormy-looking things.
They all send chills up and down my spine and just about paralyze me. I’m an organic gardener, but nothing else makes me want to run for the strongest pesticide on the market than these disgusting garden parasites.
I mentioned a while back that something was eating our fall zucchini and yellow squash plants. Turns out the culprits were nasty squash vine borers – those disgusting white maggots that burrow in the soil.
As soon as I learned what I was dealing with, I pulled those plants and inaugurated our firepit.
The same night, I tried to kill a giant green caterpillar on the tomato plant in the same bed. It did not respond well to the flame I lit under its butt.
Lately on our morning garden visits, Chris and I have been noticing that something is eating our green tomatoes. This morning we found what looked like eggs, and immediately I Googled what might be the culprit. Hornworms – either tomato or tobacco. And exactly the same species of caterpillar I found a few weeks ago. Only this time they were back with a vengeance.
My research this morning revealed that tomato hornworms prefer to feed on green tomatoes and are most active at night. So, this evening, I set out to find them. I picked two large and two medium-sized hornworms and one dark brown, translucent caterpillar off our plants. I have never felt so disgusted in my life.
Here you can see the damage they cause on the leaves and the camouflage they create for themselves.
And here you can see (sort of) the damage to the fruit. Sorry for the blurriness – my hands were shaky!
I doused our plants with these organicides – both pyrethrin-based. I learned this morning that Bt is the most effective method for killing hornworms, but I haven’t been able to find any so far.
As an organic gardener, I’ve spent far too much time looking through a bug identifier my sister bought me this spring. The images make my stomach wretch and my skin crawl. Seriously, are delicious organic tomatoes really worth it? The jury is still out at the Wilcox house.
Ah ha! Thanks for this post! That must be what’s eaten so many of ours!!! Well, to me, since it is so late in the season, they are so not worth it. Most of our tomato plants are done, so the last few can get eaten. No way am I touching those worms. You’re so brave!
Love this site, by the way!
September 4th, 2009 at 10:32 am
I’m glad this post helped you out! It took a lot of researching bugs (and wanting to puke) to figure out what the problem was, so I’m happy to spare you that, at least! My friend Holly has the same problem, as well, and since her plants are finished, she just pulled them out. Ours are still producing, so we’re still waging war. 🙂