The KPRC Radio Gardenline Tip By Randy Lemmon For 06-17-04 Printer-Friendly Version
Howdy Gardening Enthusiasts!
I'm getting lots of emails and phone calls on the GardenLine about the Tomato Hornworm. Tomato hornworms are one of the more creepy and frustrating pests in the vegetable garden. They can get huge (up to 5 inches long and nearly an inch thick), and with that little horn-like thing at one end, they're scary looking. That is if you can find them. Their green color and smooth skin help them blend into foliage. And can they ever eat. One day your tomatoes look great, the next there's barely a leaf left, and the fruit is half eaten.
Controlling tomato hornworms starts with persistence. Look for them hanging from the undersides of leaves; however you'll probably see their black pellet-like droppings on the foliage first. I think there are three ways to treat these buggers.
First is the most organic way and that is to just handpick and stomp (or drop into a jar of soapy water) the ones you find, but it will be hard to get them all. The next best method, which is also organic, is to spray the plants down with a B.T. insecticide. B.T. stands for Bascillus Thuringiensis, which is a natural bacterium that targets worms and caterpillars. When they eat a leaf treated with B.T., they get sick and die almost immediately. Lastly there is a new form of insecticide approved for vegetable gardens with the active ingredient Cyfluthrin. You can spray this product, right up to the day of harvest.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.