I Found A Way To Stay On Top Of The Hornworm Problem

Those who work the land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty. Proverbs 28:19

I shared recently about the hornworms I found ravishing my tomatillos, peppers, and eggplants. As of this week I’ve found 5 hornworms! One worm can eat a whole plant. It is time I stepped up my game with these mutants.

So far, I’ve learned that you know you have a big hornworm on the loose when see this:

Plants with half eaten and stripped leaves.

Dark green grenade 💩

You might find them actively eating like this:

Or under a leaf resting like this:

So far I’m not sure if I’ve found any tiny hornworms or just other sorts of tiny caterpillars so it left me to wonder how I continue to miss them before they are that big! But I discovered something new:

Immediately I wondered what these tiny eggs where on the tomato leaves. They were in fact on the tomato hornworm’s favorite plant. There also weren’t many of them. Other plants that I’ve seen with hoards of tiny caterpillars are from a different plant family, like kale, and there are hoards of them. I haven’t seen more than 2 hornworms at a time. Notice many caterpillars have a food preference? So this narrows the suspects.

I have confirmed that these tiny, translucent green eggs are hawk moth eggs that hatch the hornworm caterpillar. Though they are tiny and colored like the leaf, I was surprised how easy they were to spot when looking carefully. I went looking for them the following morning and successfully found another one. The moth lays them at night and they hatch in 2-3 days.

If you think it’s tedious looking for tiny eggs and tiny caterpillars, it’s nothing compared to seeing the damage and having to look for a monster caterpillar! I found it pretty gratifying to find the eggs before they had a chance to destroy my vegetable plants.

Those who work the land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty. Proverbs 28:19

I’m looking forward to improving how I work my land. Now I’ll be better about inspecting my plants. This, in addition to amending the soil, will bring better yields. I am glad I’m now armed with this new knowledge!


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