@#$%$##@ Hornworms!!!!

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Man.
Those damned things grow fast! I just noted severe hornworm damage to my vines this morning! Not only were the little bastards eating the vines, they've been eating the tomatoes! Both green and nearly ripe. Lot's of destruction. <sigh>
Went out with a flashlight about midnight to hunt them and removed 10 very large 4" + hornworms from my vines, happily doing even more damage.
The tops of the vines are pretty well stripped and they destroyed at least a couple dozen or more fruits.
My chickens and ducks are gonna get a treat in the morning. ;-) I just hope I found them all!
K.
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On Thu, 01 Jul 2004 02:04:06 -0500 in

keep your eyes open for horn moths in the off season, too. It helps a lot.
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So does a dusting of Sevan dust at 10 %.
Dwayne
graced the world with this thought:

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I'd heard that even 10% sevin dust would have no effect on the larger worms. They are just too damned big for it to do any good?
Also, Texas has been getting tons of rain. :( Sevin is useless when that is going on.
But thanks anyway! :-)
K.
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On Fri, 02 Jul 2004 04:27:13 -0500, Katra

The rain has stopped, but the sevin still seems like a really bad idea to me as it kills indiscriminately beneficials, pollinators, and probably a few pests as well. Since my neighbors also keep bees, it is out of the question on those grounds as well.
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I also have a large number of spiders that spin beautiful webs every night in my tomato vines, including one very large, very pregnant Yellow Garden Spider. :-) Those are my favorite spiders!
http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/black_and_yel low_argiope.htm
Huge and colorful, they spin VERY large webs. One of my few welcome predators that is actually as diurnal as the Carolina Anoles. The vast majority of my orb weavers are nocturnal.
Looks like I got all the worms by just hand picking with a flashlight that night. Only took me about 1/2 hour. I've not seen any "fresh" damage at this point.
As tempting as sevin is, I really don't want to kill my spiders. :-( If that big yellow gal hangs out there long enough, odds are she might catch a few of those moths. <lol> She is nearly big enough I think to handle one.
Thanks everyone for the input!
K.
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[...]

Yellow
http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/black_and_ye l
We used to catch grasshoppers and carefully place them in the web of a garden spider (called a 'banana spider' by the local kids). It was interesting to watch the spider crawl to the hapless grasshopper and wrap it in silk.

I never tried picking them off at night. We used to look for the damage, then hunt down the bug. Also, they start clicking if you shake the vine a bit.
Alas, I have seen very few of the critters in the past several years. We'll see how many there are near our new place. The chickens and guineas are ready.
Ray
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Probably the same spider. :-)
I've also been known to "feed" my local ones.
There are currently 3 in residence in my yard! 1 in front around the BBQ, one in back in the tomatoes, and a cute little male one inside of my greenhouse. :-)

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BT works well on horn worms and doesn't indiscriminately kill beneficials.

Indeed.
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wrote:

I've heard of BT for mosquitos, how and what BT is used for hornworms? Might be best to pre-treat plants with it about mid-season?
K.
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That's its normal use (BT for mosquitos is fairly new and is a different type). You just spray or dust it on the plant. Here's one BT product page:
http://www.spinics.net/am/B00018R74I

It's not a poison so you can pre-treat all you want. It's best to get the horn worms while they are small.
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wrote:

Cool. :-) I'll check on this product at our local nurseries and home centers. I'd feel a lot better about using it than sevin! I do value my insect predators. Just wish they would do better on moth larvae!

That's the idea. <G> Let's see, that was the end of June so if I start treating at the beginning of June, I might be able to prevent the damage. Fortunately, the vines are large and healthy.
Thanks! K.

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Hmmm... I don't see many sphinx moths around. Wonder if setting up a moth trap would help prevent this?
Thanks! K.
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On Thu, 01 Jul 2004 12:39:16 -0500 in

good question... what the hey, it can't hurt...
My aunt had a dog that would find and eat hornworms on the plant... I've always wondered if that's trainable.
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Now that would be nice! <lol> Those worms are so well hidden, they are hard to spot even when active at night! :-P
K.
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(snip)

I've noticed some people seem to have more trouble spotting them than others. My wife can't spot a hornworm even if it's munching on the tomato right in front of her. I usually go out every morning and try to check the vines for fresh damage. When I find some damage it usually doesn't take me too long to find the culprit. If you catch them when they're small they don't usually do too much damage, but one of those big ones can do a LOT of damage in one night. My ducks love hornworms, but the chickens and guineas don't care for them once they get bigger than about an inch.
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don' snipped-for-privacy@there.com (The Watcher) wrote:

I can't seem to spot them at all during the day. ;-( They disguise themselves as curled leaves in the daylight! I have to hunt them with a flashlight after dark when they get active and are eating further up the vines. Even then they are hard to see, but I did pick 10 of them last night and did not see anymore tonight. The damage seems to have been halted. I need to tie up more vines tomorrow and pick ripe fruit, so will search the lower limbs again.

I know! I often do not spot the damage until the worms are a pretty good size. That is when the damage is obvious. <sigh>

The chickens did eat them this morning. They beat them up until they are soft then swallow them like spagetti! The ducks and the turkey just ate them whole as is.
It's quite amusing. <G>
K.
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wrote:

are
others. My

in front of

fresh damage.

the culprit.

damage, but

them once

I used to like feeding the big ones to the mother hens. The hen would take it in her beak, shake it a bit, and feed it to a chick. The chick would try to eat it, but fail. The hen would pick it up, shake it some more, and feed it to another chick. Same result. Eventually, the worm would be reduced to a very tough bag full of mush. The hen would eventually end up eating it herself.
As far as finding them... you might try a trick that Euell Gibbons uses to find plants. Once you find one, stare at it from several angles for a couple minutes. It's a trick to get your mind to recognize the visual pattern. After that, it'll be easy to spot them. I used that trick this spring to find Morels :-)
Ray
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I used to find them by shaking the plant and listening for the ticking sound that they make. I doubt if it would work in the city, though.
Ray
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Ugh. I've heard that you can hear them chewing... but I can't shake the vines. They are all tied up to either fencing or poles, and I might also shake the fruits off!
But thanks anyway. :-)
K.
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