GROW: The Book
This is on my tomato plant! What is it? What are all these white things on it? What should I do about all of this? Is it good or bad?
EEWW! Not sure what species this is but it looks like it is carrying its eggs on the outside of its body. I have seen green caterpillar creatures like this before but never with the white things. The ones I had were completely denuding the plant it was on. BTK took care of them all within 24 hours. I highly recommend BTK.
@Nancy Carter That is a tomato hornworm and those are the eggs of a parasitic wasp whose larvae will eat that hornworm. It is wise to let this caterpillar live, maybe move it to a tomato or pepper plant that is less critical, maybe even place it somewhere and feed it with some leaf cuttings?
You definitely want more of those wasps to protect your plants because hornworms can eat a lot.
@Nancy Carter A tomato hornworm for sure. The good news is you will have many allies in getting rid of it and more. Great find!
this is one of my favorite things. The tomato plant literally screams for help with a chemical that attracts the wasps. Soooo cool.
You can preserve the whole thing in alcohol and tell all your kids, nephews, nieces, grandkids, neighborhood kids about how it works.
oh. and you don't have to do anything with it. It's not going anywhere. It's probably already imobilized.
I found one recently too!
I've had the hornworms destroy my tomato plants in the past, praying for the wasps to come and save them!! But no love that year...
I'm surprised you only found one...
I love this picture. Thanks for sharing.
This is so cool. I love learning this way. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, thank you!
Wow @Nancy Carter ! That's textbook perfect. Thank you for sharing.
I had no idea it was such a find!! Glad everyone likes it! It is pretty interesting!
So @Nancy Carter after finding out what a cool thing you had there, what was your final decision for action? Hopefully it was let the parasitic wasp larva grow to maturity and complete their cycle of life and death.
@tomandcara I definitely left it alone! I also looked around and found some parasitic wasp larva on my Brussels sprout too!
@Nancy Carter I am glad to hear you left them alone. Years ago I had a garden and I had a "pet" tomato jhorn worm. Yes, it was eating my tomato plant voraciously, but the moth that it develops into is a pretty cool moth (in my opinion) so I was willing to let it eat away. I was gone for a weekend and my friend that watered the garden while I was gone was sooo excited to tell me that he had found this enormous tomato horn worm and had properly dispatched it to caterpillar heaven. This was many years ago and the 2 of us still laugh at mow horrified I was when he told me this and then how bad he felt for killing my "pet". My observation is the death of that one caterpillar has not significantly altered the time space continuum. Thank goodness for that
I found another horn worm covered with the larva!!!
I have horn worms I hand pick but no eggs so what can I do to attract them on behalf of my mater plants? ie is there a particular plant/bloom that attracts them so they can then find the hornworms??
@Ferg How long until the larva hatch? Not sure if thats the right word.
@silvertipgrizz I'm really not sure how to attract them, I have 2 tomato plants with the larva and a Brussels sprout too. Maybe my garden is in distress, this is the first year for my vegetable garden and I'm figuring it out as I go and I have a lot to learn!
Hornworms are the larvae of hummingbird moths.
I would not recommend attracting hornworms -- they are pretty but can devastate any plants in the nightshade family.
@shllnzl I definitely do not want to attract horn worms just the parasitic wasps!
@Nancy Carter @ltwickey @torey
Here are two articles on parasitic wasps..I found the first one from NC very helpful and it has a link at the end that you can go to to ask questions.. So glad this thread was started...was the motivation to look for this info I needed too...
@silvertipgrizz that article is fascinating! Thank you for sharing it. I had no idea the hornworm doesn't die until the end but it makes total sense!!
@Nancy Carter the hornworm dies at my house every time I find one as they love my mater plants all the way to destruction...now that i know they make a pretty moth i think i'll find a way to keep them away from my plants so they can live...I never like killing anything except of course KNATS !!!
Glad you found the article helpful! THanks to your article I learned too.
@silvertipgrizz The parasitic wasp is attracted by a chemical (I can't remember the name off the top of my head) that is releases by the plant being damaged or in this specific case eaten by the horn worm. If you want to attract them you would need to have horn worms present for them to lay eggs on and then prune your plants (you could then grow these out with rooting hormone if you want to have even more tomato plants). I have not tried this but from the mechanism it should work.
@Nancy Carter The wasp eggs hatch into the hornworm and eat their way out. Yummy.
@silvertipgrizz and @shllnzl the sphinx moth that changes into a hummingbird moth is whitelined sphinx (Hyles lineata), and is not destructive. Nor does it like tomatoes. It is quite pretty.
On the other hand, the tomato hornworm becomes a hawk (5-spotted), or sphinx moth, and belongs to Manduca quinquemaculata. The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) is also a pest which becomes the 5-spotted, or sphinx, moth.