Five Spotted Hawkmoth…..Every Gardeners Green Monster

 The Other Day I was Asked….What are these green worms with a horn eating my tomatoes

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While I knew what the young lady was asking, all I could see was red. For those of you that have ever experienced one of these Horned worm thingys you know what I’m talking about…We had a double issue this year. Normally this invasive little booger hits you once a year and you expect it at the same time…thought I was outta the woods and fell asleep and got beat the second time around.  You find out in the morning when you go out and go …WHAT THE F*********************!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then you proceed to pick this little ^%$&)^ off and and slowly smash the little %$#$##@! until its guts squirt about six feet!! Then you hear you plants behind you cheering and it becomes a contest with the rest of the little ^&^^%$%^ on how far you can squirt the no good low class having little &^^^%^$#$…AAHHHH man that felt good. To say the least these creatures are very destructive.

However, when the young lady at the Community Roots Farmer’s Market asked this question…other than I knew they came from sort of moth…I really knew very little…so I very calmly said…Well I know if you see moths you need to keep an eye out for them. You usually find them when they piss you off…

The young lady Inquired further…What do you mean???  she asked..I replied, How did you find out you had them…With a light-switch mood swing She replied…

Oh I was so mad!!! I went out to water and my plants all looked different. I went over and there were about a dozen of these little &&*&%$$ with a dang dab horn on it. They weren’t there yesterday..but I was so mad it didn’t it made me feel good to squash them…

With that she stopped and looked at me…OH…I smiled as her nostrils were still flared and the gravely sound of her voice still echoing in the recesses of my mind as she said goooood tooo sqqquaaash them….I could actually see her squishing thees little no good &^%$#&^&^% monsters and talking to them like I do…

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Hey it happens to everyone. This is one creature you really have to look for early. They can grow from un-see-able to three inches overnight and half you plant is gone. I have seen them on Four O’Clocks, Chili Plants, Tomatoes..

It is my understanding that if they have little white egg looking appendages on their back..you have a wasp issue also…OUCH!!!! Huh???

Now I have never seen one like that so I included a photo of one….-h-h-h-h-h-h-hh- kinda weird….I do know this I’m grateful as I have seen the damage wasps can do also…and they’re not as easy to battle

It is my belief that we lobby oh gosh I don’t know anyone I guess to change the name of this no good lousy…oh I mean bug, creature, insect I believe it is..I believe you’ll agree I have made my case and a name change is seriously justified.

I propose we change this morphing disrespectful garden insect’s name to

The I’m so Pissed I’m Gonna Squirt Your Guts Across the yard Horned Worm Thingy…well we can leave the thingy thing off if you want.

So directly from a source that I as billions of others trust the Farmer’s Almanac 

What are Tomato Hornworms?

If you’ve ever grown garden tomatoes, chances are you have dealt with these green caterpillar pests. They can be found in most any region of the US and can ruin your tomato crop in record time; they also feed on eggplant, pepper, and potato. They can blend in quite easily with the green foliage and feed non-stop, creating spotty and chewed leaves and fruit.

How to Identify Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms can be up to 5 inches long—which can be quite a shock when you first come across one! They do the most damage in the caterpillar, or larvae, stage. They are pale green with white and black markings, plus a horn-like protrusion. (They are not capable of stinging.) The life cycle is as follows:

  • In late spring, large adult moths lay eggs on the undersides of foliage, which will hatch within a week.
  • Caterpillar larvae will feed from 4–6 weeks before creating a cocoon for overwintering in the soil. If the weather is warm enough, larvae may only burrow for as little as 2–3 weeks.
  • Moths will emerge in the spring, and can be identified by their orange markings. They will then lay eggs once again. More than one generation a year may be possible in warmer climates.

The larvae blend really well with the plant greenery. Just get used to a daily patrol, looking for hornworm eggs and small caterpillars. Here are some cues of infestations:

  • Look closely at the TOP of your tomato leafs for dark green droppings left by the larva feeding on the leaves. Then look at the underside of leaves and you’ll find a hornworm.
  • Look for stems missing some leaves and wilted leaves hanging down. You may find white cocoons and their hornworm hosts nearby.

How to get rid of Tomato Hornworms

  • Till soil at the beginning and end of each gardening season to destroy overwintering larvae. Tillage has shown to cause up to 90% mortality.
  • Handpicking is an excellent tactic for control if you have the time and patience, or a small garden. The caterpillars are not dangerous and cannot sting. If you are squeamish about crushing these large insects, drop them into soapy water instead.
  • Keep wasps around; they’re “good” insects which feed on hornworms and act as a biological control. You may see hormworms with wasp larvae attached, which look like grains of rice. (See photo above.) These attacked hornworms will have little effect on your plants, so leave them and let the wasps carry out their life cycle.
  • If the hornworm population or the area of your garden is too large, insecticides can be a useful control. You can use the botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison (but doesn’t harm other plants or animals). Please check with your local Cooperative Extension for a list of approved insecticides in your area.
  • To keep hornworms away from your tomato plants next year, try interplanting dill; marigolds are also an excellent companion plant that keeps many pests away.

Read more about tomato pests on our Tomatoes plant page.

 

Hey hope you enjoyed…as fall comes in it may surprise some this year. It’s time to start getting ready for spring. The coming weeks will mark an end to the Farmer’s Market Season…Enjoy “Fresh” while you can and Know Your Farmer…Know Your Food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey folks in the Reno Lake Tahoe area. The Great Basin Nevada Grown Farmers Market last event is Sept 25.

Come out and support your local Farmers and buy their STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Written By: Aaron Aveiro and the Farmers Almanac folks…many thanks for allowing me to pilfer your website and use your content…

Photos coutresy Google Images…

Organics Admin
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Organics Admin

COO at Aladay LLC
Organic Farmer, Property Preservation Specialist and Custom Glass & Wood Worker. Blogger extraordinaire...
Organics Admin
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