Tomato Hornworm -- Moooa ha ha ha ha!

Page 1 of 2  
I had just finished feeding the chickens when I decided to inspect the electric fence that protects them from predators. Since it is hooked to the fence that attempts to protect the garden from rabbits and deer and stuff, I decided to inspect that one, too. Since I was already out there, I decided to take a look through the garden. I found a couple cucumbers, munched on some raw peas...
And noticed that something had been pruning my tomato vines (which are big and healthy and full of *green* tomatoes <sign>). Ah, the first tomato hornworm of the year! Goodie!
So, I shook the vine and listened for the little tick tick tick. Ah, there he is! Even though it was getting dark, I found the little caterpillar easily.
So, I plucked it off, hooked the fence back up, and took the tomato worm and a grasshopper I had found earlier to the chicken pen. They were all sleeping, but my son's favorite chicken (the only one old enough to lay) was only too willing to grab the grasshopper out of my fingers. After that, I gave her the tomato worm. She had a bit of a rough time with it. :-)
You might not be able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but all it takes is a hen to turn a bug into an egg.
As soon as the corn is all harvested, I'll let the chickens out so they can get some free protein. I need to fatten the roosters up so we can enjoy some stir-fried chicken, roasted chicken, chicken pie, chicken soup, fried chicken..... :-)
Ray Drouillard
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 31 Aug 2004 22:04:35 -0400, "Ray Drouillard"

Yeh for the hen!
I found my first tomato hornworm of the season on a Devil's Tongue Pepper, but it made me smile. It was covered in tiny white wasp larvae.
Penelope
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I wonder if you can buy those little wasps from an organic growers' supply company or something. A larger scale grower would certainly be able to benefit from them.
As for us, the few we find are simply turned into chicken food :-) I found another yesterday. It was a huge, fat one. Poor little henny penny could barely choke it down. She managed, though. :-)
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

http://entweb.clemson.edu/cuentres/cesheets/benefici/ce174.htm Olin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Probably not, but I doubt if that bug will get much sympathy from anyone who has had their tomatoes 'pruned' by the little monsters. They munched on some of the fruit, too.
By the way, my son found one last night, and I found another four today. That hen is going to get fat on them. :-) I'm playing favorites. She is the only one who's laying, so she gets the extra protein.
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Oh, oh! That's what mine looked like! I didn't feel sorry for him at all. As a matter of fact, I was rather gleeful.
Penelope
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in messag

I haven't seen any parasitic wasp pupae yet, but we managed to pluck about twenty hornworms off the tomatoes today. They are doing some serious munching.
Most of them went to the one hen who is laying. We took her out of the pen, held out a handful of worms, and let her take her pick. She has to shake the worm a bit to get it to deflate, then she swallows it.
Interestingly enough, some of the worms were mostly black. I have never seen a black tomato worm before.
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in messag

Update:
Another twenty or thirty found this late afternoon. The kids had a great time hunting, capturing, and feeding them to the chickens. The other pullets got a taste once everyone's favorite hen got so full she refused to eat another bite. LOL
The kids and chickens enjoyed it greatly, but the bugs are starting to do some serous damage. Fortunately, there are 50 or 60 less bugs than before. I have never seen an infestation that bad. I'm tempted to let one grow to maturity just to see what the moth looks like.
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
[snip]

Are these pests congregated on one or two plants? Or spread throughout the entire crop? If you can localize the source it might save what's left of your burgeoning harvest.
The Ranger
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They were spread out pretty evenly among fifteen or so plants. I say 'were' because we only managed to find one today -- much to the disappointment of the kids. Also, the damaged ends of the vines were scabbed over.
We found a few munched tomatoes, and there is some bare foliage, but I don't think the bugs ate more than a few percent of the vines. They may have actually done us a favor by pruning the vines a bit and also stressing them enough to convince them to ripen the tomatoes. I managed to pick a couple pounds of tomatoes, and a whole bunch of them are starting to ripen. We might have to start canning or freezing in a week or two.
Paul was very delighted to get a double-yolk egg this morning. I told him that maybe Racetrack (the name he gave his hen) gave him that egg because he fed her so many bugs. She really is the best laying hen I have ever seen. I think I'll buy a dozen black sex link pullets next year. She only missed one day since the day she started laying, and that is exceptional even for a hen in her peak. Most start laying an egg or two a week, and take a while to get to peak production.
Ray Drouillard
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 4 Sep 2004 13:31:17 -0400, "Ray Drouillard"

May I borrow your children for a while next summer? :)
Pat
--
Coming soon: www.containerseeds.com - vegetable, herb,
and edible flower seeds especially selected for successful
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You would need a few hens, too. It's no fun collecting bugs if you don't have a chicken to feed it to.
By the way, all I found today were two small bugs. The leaves are starting to grow back on the affected vines. They looked devastated when it was happening, but most of the damage was to the tops of plants. There are still plenty of leaves. The chickens are enjoying the half-eaten green tomatoes that we have found.
Ray Drouillard
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I hear from someone who uses chicken in the garden that they completely eliminate slugs, and strongly reduce weed seeds (I have to spread sluggo if I want to garden). Because they scratch, they get seeds all the way down to maybe 1/2 inch. They also do a good job with all sort of insects and grubs, good and bad. Of course, they will eliminate tomatoes and green seedlings if you let them in in the summer. She only lets them in for the month before spring planting, approximately April 15-May 15, but that is enough. I suppose one could have the compost pile in the kitchen pen, and get free turning and some nitrogenization.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If I get a hen and turn her loose in the garden as a semi-permanant resident, is she goiing to pick at tomatos etc or is it better to have a separate area for said hen? How many hens could a 9'x60' garden accomedate? More importantly, do they eat white flies and spider mites?
simy1 wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
They'll eat your cabbage and corn if they get a chance. I like Simy1's idea. I might try it next year.
Eventually, I want to keep the chickens in the orchard. They will eat bugs and deadfalls, while fertilizing the trees.
Ray

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net writes:

I've found the Australorps (sp?) to be reliable layers. This is only the second year for my Aracuna but she seems to be a steady layer also easy to tell since she is the only one laying blue/green eggs. <g>
Aren't pet chickens great?!
Glenna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
writes:

We still only have one layer. The others are too young. I'm expecting the Isa Browns to do very well. The Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are old classics, and ought to be steady layers for a long time. I don't know what breed the white ones are (they were unexpected extras that someone else had ordered but didn't pick up), so I don't know what to expect from them. They look somewhat like leghorns, but have red earlobes.
I'm glad to hear the araucanas are reliable layers. We have ten of them (should have had an even dozen, but the person doing the sexing must have had a bad day). We had gotten a pastel blue egg from a farm before we moved up here, so when I found out what kind of chicken did that, I ordered some.

I certainly have no problem getting my middle child to eat eggs. He loves to run out there and collect the egg from his pet hen, and wants me or his mother to cook it up right away. We're enjoying the birds a whole lot more than I thought we would.
Ray

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree about the Barred rocks and RIR's being nice reliable standby's :-) Our local feed store has gotten in the fall chicks. I like to get them right now as the tend to start laying right about the time the older hens quit for the winter. I picked up 2 of each along with a couple of ornamental bantams, and dad bought me 3 more aracauanas. All are sexed as hens.
By far tho', my most reliable layers have been red sex links, and also turkens. The turkens were good for about 3 years before they slowed down, and tended to be better winter layers.
Don't mourn the Aracauna roosters! They are very nice birds, and I've never had a mean one... One rooster per 5 to 10 hens is about right but if your hens start getting bald backs, you may wish to make soup out of one or find it a good home. I've also found aracaunas to be one of my longer lived birds. My one roo' is about 8 years old now.
K. (a fellow chicken lover!)
--
Sprout the Mung Bean to reply...

>,,<Cat's Haven Hobby Farm>,,<Katraatcenturyteldotnet>,,<
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
writes:

I just counted all the chickens to make sure we didn't lose any that I don't know about. It turns out that we have 38 hens. That's enough for three roosters. We are keeping my youngest son's pet named 'stripe', who is a beautiful red and gold bird (I don't know what breed). We are also keeping a red Araukana mix who is starting to look rather handsome. We need to choose one of the black and white Araukana mix roosters as a third. A lot of them have bent toes that look genetic, so it may be a simple matter to choose one with good feet LOL.
Right now, we're working on new digs for them. I need to make some nest boxes and a big 100 pound feeder to put into the lean-to behind the pole barn with the goats. We just put in a woven wire fence, so the chickens and goats will have plenty of room to roam, and plenty of greens to eat. I haven't quite decided what to do with the guineas. They are supposed to be our free range bug patrol, but they keep hanging around the chicken pen. We let them in at night to keep them save. We already lost two -- probably to that hawk that ate one of our barred rocks.
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If I wanted a single hen, maybe two for garden duties and the eggs, what would be a good variety? I grew uo with ducks so we only really ate green shelled mallard eggs as kids, they're thicker than chicken eggs as I recall.
My garden is small, 9'x60' but I get crickets, white flies, spider mites and the occasional Tomatoe Hornworm. Do they eat lizards, I have a cinderblock wall regularly patroled by lizards and occasionally inhabited by cockroaches.
I live in Mesa, AZ so need something that would adapt to the desert climate. I have a beautifil lemon tree and could build a henhouse under it. Nothing else wants to grow in its shade.
Ray Drouillard wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.