It’s mid-summer, if your tomato vines haven’t been attached by hornworns so far this summer consider your self lucky. Be on the lookout, it is time for them to arrive in your garden.
If it matters to you there are really two different hornworms commonly called tomato hornworm. The most common is really the Tobacco hornworm larva and is generally green with seven diagonal white lines on it’s sides with a curved red tipped horn. True Tomato hornworms have eight V-shaped marks on each side and their horn is straighter and blue to black in color. Hornworms are the larvae of hawk or sphinx moths, also known as hummingbird moths. Tobacco hornworm are generelly the most commonly seen of the two, but both can be found and may even be present on the same plant.
Tomato / Tobacco hornworms are the largest caterpillars found in most gardens and can measure up to 4 inches in length. The prominent “horn” on the rear of both gives them their name.
Due to their size and appreciate these garden pests can quickly sometime almost over night, defoliate tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Occasionally, they may also feed on green fruit. Gardeners are likely to spot the large areas of damage at the top of a plant long before they see the culprit. Hornworms are often difficult to see and find because of their protective coloring. They are not much for the heat of direct sunlight, they tend to feed on the interior of the plant, out of sight during the day and are more easily spotted when they move to the outside of the plant at dawn and dusk.
Control of horn worms:
* Handpicking. The large size of hornworms makes it easy to get hold of them. Once removed from the plant, they can be destroyed by snipping them in half with shears or dropping them into a bucket of soap water.
* Rototilling your garden, turning up the soil after harvest will destroy any pupae that may be there.
* Biological. Bacillus thuringensis, or BT (e.g., Dipel, Thuricide), is also considered very effective, especially on smaller larvae. You may want to spray your plants with BT to control these pest even before you see plant damage they have caused.
Natural enemies, such as the parasitic wasp that lays its eggs on the hornworm’s back, are common. If found, such worms should be left in the garden so the emerging wasps can parasitize other hornworms.
* Insecticides labeled for hornworm control can be used, products containing carbaryl, permethrin, spinosad insecticides. Read the label carefully before using any insecticide and carefully follow all instructions in their use.
The Bad News is there’s more than 10 or 15 different tomato diseases, bacterial and virus that can effect home gardener tomato crops.
Blossom end rot
The Good News is
most tomato diseases, bacterial and virus infections can be easily treated if properly identified and treated in a timely manner.
Iowa state university link is for those of you that garden in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. and the University of Texas link provides information that most often effect southern state tomato gardens.
No matter where you live both sites have a huge amount of useful information on Identifying and treating tomato diseases. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the sheer numbers of tomato diseases. I’m pretty sure you will not suffer from all of them this year. in fact, insect control very well maybe your biggest problem in a home garden.
Iowa State University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.
Texas A and M University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.
Insect control just like disease control starts with properly identifying the insect(s) that are causing your problems.
Adult potato beetle
Potato beetle larva
Colorado State University link will help you identify and control some of the most common tomato insect pest.
Texas A and M University link will help you identify and control some of the most common tomato insect pest.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture contains a lot of useful information on identifying and control of the Colorado Potato Beetle. This insect pest will attack Tomato’s, Egg Plants and Peppers as well as Potato’s.
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