Help, hornworms!!!!!!!!

Every year I am beseiged by tomato hornworms. This year I faithfully used diamotateous earth, thinking that of course, this would eradicate the problem. Well, several days ago, my cherry tomatoes, my peppers, (all different kinds), as well as my larger tomatoes were full of blooms, really loving the hot rainy weather. Today I went out & checked for any developing cucumbers, & guess what? All of the blooms had been EATEN entirely, there is not a single one of them left. How can I get rid of these things once & for all? I have been changing out my potting soil entirely each growing season, thinking that this might have been the problem, but apparently they are living somewhere.
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Have you actually seen hornworms? If so, the best way to get rid of them is just to pick them off. Any deer footprints in the garden? They also like to eat flowers and fresh leaf growth.
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Google confirms what I thought: tomato hormworms are the caterpillars of a large and beautiful moth. They do not winter in the soil. Google articles also say that hornworms are large and can be easily picked off. I suspect that you do not have hormworms at all. Do you see large caterpillars with horns???

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They are definitely NOT hard to spot. They're the size of an adult's thumb sometimes! The first time I saw one, I was working in the garden and (before playing in a band wrecked my ears), I heard something chewing. I followed the sound and found this monster. Pretty impressive, though. Like a garden pest created by Disney. :-)

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They are tiny when they are hatched, so while you're correct about size, that is a fully mature larva.
On Sun, 13 Aug 2006 04:00:20 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

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I think I've been extraordinarily lucky to have only seen them once in 30+years. Now, deer are another story. My tomatoes are in cylindrical cages. everything outside the cages is nibbled. They eat all new leaf growth on the sweet potatoes, as well the cantelope vines. I discreetly tried to hire a bow hunter friend as a hit man, but he's not into doing Sopranos-style contract work.

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I guess you folks know sweet potatoe leaves are edible. I think of them as low growing malabar spinach.
Bill
--
S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
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wrote:

Actually, I didn't know that. But, the deer do.
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(before

Man oh man, me too! Sometimes my ears ring so loud I ask my wife if she can hear it. If the kids of today only knew what they are in for.
--
J.C.



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Luckily, I'm not that far gone. Someone pointed me to the $12 earplugs at this site: www.etymotic.com
The fancy, custom fitted ones are on my shopping list, after I get the roof replaced and a few other little financial nightmares have passed.
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The easiest indicator for me (besides tomatoes eaten to the nub!) are the large black feces they leave behind. If you're lucky, the little parasitic wasps will find them and infect them - you'll know by the little white cocoons hanging off of the hornworm. If you find them like that, don't kill them! Let the wasp larvae do their business. You'll never have to worry about hornworms again :o)
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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This year my tomatoes were eaten by hornworms. I identified mine kind as actually tobacco hornworms. They look very similar, and act the same. They strip vegetation QUICKLY and entire portions of leaf and blossom would be gone, leaving only bare vine stem. I think handpicking is not too effective because they are very well camouflaged in the vegetation. I can find the large ones because they get very big (almost as big as my thumb), and are sometimes still close to the damaged area. But they do move on and may not still be in the area. I picked off a whole water bottle full of them. Sometimes I could find them because of their feces on a leaf are easy to see and then look above to locate them.
But it didn't work because I couldn't find all the small ones (they start off tiny). I handpicked worms and then in one or two days the little ones gorged themselves on leaves and blossoms until they were big enough to see. My plants were not going to survive at this rate.
I bought some BT and sprayed the plants under and above the leaves. All the worms have to do is eat one mouthful of the bacteria and it shuts down their gut. They quit eating immediately and a few days later died. I could see them once they turned black. It only took one spray to kill them all and they have not come back.
BT is a bacteria that kills only caterpillars that ingest it. It doesn't kill beetles like ladybugs or spiders or pets. And I think it doesn't hurt me, although I did wash the fruit that was already set.
The only problem is that a pint for $12 was the smallest amount I could purchase and it only took 2 tablespoons of the concentrate to make enough to spray all my plants. Anyone need an almost full bottle of BT?
wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says... :) Every year I am beseiged by tomato hornworms. This year I faithfully :) used diamotateous earth, thinking that of course, this would eradicate :) the problem. Well, several days ago, my cherry tomatoes, my peppers, :) (all different kinds), as well as my larger tomatoes were full of :) blooms, really loving the hot rainy weather. Today I went out & checked :) for any developing cucumbers, & guess what? All of the blooms had been :) EATEN entirely, there is not a single one of them left. How can I get :) rid of these things once & for all? I have been changing out my potting :) soil entirely each growing season, thinking that this might have been :) the problem, but apparently they are living somewhere. :) :) Instead of DE sprinkle the plants with B.T....will only effect the caterpillars, though inspection and removing them is quicker. think of them as a green "where's Waldo" puzzle
--
Lar

It is said that the early bird gets the worm,
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wrote:

We get them every year, although not that many. Because of their size it is easy to spot them and pick them off. They are larvae from a moth or butterfly which lays eggs on the plant.
I built 5 birdhouses last winter. In addition to the three we have in the yard, all were occupied with wrens, some houses were re-occupied. As a result there were fewer insect problems this year.
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BT will take care of the tomato worms and it works very well on cabbage also. I put it on my cabbage after each rain and have nice clean uneaten cabbage. If I see one tomato worm I use it on them also.
Mel & Donnie down in Bluebird Valley In the middle of beautiful down town Yountsville. Managers of the water works. http://community.webtv.net/MelDKelly/doc
http://community.webtv.net/MelDKelly/MelDonniesBluebird
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I hope no one feels this is out of place in this group. Here's a link to two lovely poems written about hornworms by Stanley Kunitz, who died this past May at the age of 100. He was a pulitzer prize winner and was twice the US poet laureate, and he was an avid gardener. The link also shows pictures of a hornworms in two phases: one as is being discussed in this thread, and the other toward the end of its life. (There's also a photo of the poet.) The poems are Hornworm: A Summer Reverie, and Hornworm: An Autumn Lamentation. http://p216.ezboard.com/fthearcadianbookroomfrm12.showMessage?topicID 6.topic
Enjoy, helco

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Thank you for posting this, I enjoyed them both!
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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Visit your tomatoes daily and pick off the miserable beasts. If they have the eggs of parasitic wasps on them, throw them aside. Otherwise squash them. Odd twist -- the adults of these larvae are marvelous -- http://personal.ecu.edu/wuenschk/SphinxMoth.htm
Every year I am beseiged by tomato hornworms. This year I faithfully used diamotateous earth, thinking that of course, this would eradicate the problem. Well, several days ago, my cherry tomatoes, my peppers, (all different kinds), as well as my larger tomatoes were full of blooms, really loving the hot rainy weather. Today I went out & checked for any developing cucumbers, & guess what? All of the blooms had been EATEN entirely, there is not a single one of them left. How can I get rid of these things once & for all? I have been changing out my potting soil entirely each growing season, thinking that this might have been the problem, but apparently they are living somewhere.
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