Invader

Please see photo, via link below. We caught a few of these guys today, crawling around on the tomato plant vines. Wonder if anybody can advise what the white things are, attached to the caterpillar's back.
http://img254.imageshack.us/img254/2484/caterpillaron6.jpg
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ghb624 wrote:

Wow. Haven't seen one of those since I was a little kid in Pennsylvania. It used to be my job to go out to the garden every morning and pick them off of the tomato plants and toss them into the burn barrel. What you've got is a tomato hornworm. Nice picture by the way. And I think that the white "pods" on it means that it has been parasitized by one of its predators but I'll leave that for someone else to verify.
http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/dp_hfrr/extensn/problems/hornworm.htm
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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The things on their backs are your friends. Do not destroy the caterpillar, nor them. Let them do their thing and hatch.
Most likely:
http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/hornworm.htm
"Tomato hornworm larvae are also parasitized by a number of insects. One of the most common is a small braconid wasp, Cotesia congregatus. Larvae that hatch from wasp eggs laid on the hornworm feed on the inside of the hornworm until the wasp is ready to pupate. The cocoons appear as white projections protruding from the hornworms body (see photo, left). If such projections are observed, the hornworms should be left in the garden to conserve the beneficial parasitoids. The wasps will kill the hornworms when they emerge from the cocoons and will seek out other hornworms to parasitize."
Charlie
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Those are parasites on the tomato hornworm's back. If I find a hornworm with parasites in my garden I usually move it somewhere it won't harm my plants and leave it alone so the parasites will increase in number. Marilyn

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Thanks much, any day you learn something new is a good day. I posted another photo of the hornworm & its parasites here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghb624/790787348 /
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"Marilyn" <fcorliss at comcast dot net> wrote in message

Many years ago, I actually heard one of those chewing a tomato plant 15 feet away. That's crazy.
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I was able to find the worms on our tomatoes last year by looking up from the huge piles of poo they drop. I'd never seen them before, and was amazed at the damage a few of them could do in a day.
Seahag
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wrote:

Poo is always a good way to locate any number of garden bastids, and other ones as well.
It's a Dirty Job, but hey..........
Charlie
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Great picture. Those may be wasp larvae, which compel the caterpillar to eat to oblivion. Yes, tomato hornworms will eat tomato plants to nothing in one day. You were lucky - you caught the sucker when it was big enough to spot. The younger one-inch ones are much more difficult to find.
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What you have on your "tomato horn worm" are eggs of a parasitic wasp that is very beneficial. They live on the host worm and suck the juices out of it. Actually, you want more of these egg cases. The horn worm is very destructive to your tomato plants so nobody wants them. If you leave the ones alone that have the egg attachments in a few days they will die. The wasps hatch and go about their business of laying eggs on more horn worms. The horn worm is the caterpillar of the sphinx moth or "tobacco bug" or tobacco moth as sometimes it's called. They almost look like humming birds the way they suck nectar from flowers and hover over a flower.
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The Hormworms are also real good Catfish bait.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
http://community.webtv.net/MelKelly/TheKids
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