Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bad Bugs, Bad Bugs, Watcha Gonna Do?

Hubby and I were checking out the garden tonight to check the status of the various plants. I always start at the tomatoes, because I am most proud of them.

And then I saw the disgusting thing: A tomato hornworm. And then I saw a second, longer one. I didn't have the presence of mind to go get the camera, so the image at left is a royalty-free image from

These have to be THE most disgusting bugs a gardener has to deal with. There is something really creepy about them, too--perhaps because they don't have least not eyes you and I would recognize as eyes. They are evil bugs, because they will strip the leaves from your tomato plants faster than you could ever imagine.

So here's the fun part--you have to pick them off the plant and stomp them. I can handle--barely--the picking them off part, although I am always a little creeped out by the fact that because they grip the tomato stem so hard, I might accidentally squish one. Ewwww. But I can't stand stomping them, so I gave that job to hubby, who delightfully complied.

If the hornworms are covered in white sacs, then you aren't supposed to stomp them; you're supposed to leave them. The white sacs are parasitic wasp egg sacs, and the hatching babies will eat the hornworms before the hornworms can really do significant damage to your plant.

I was surprised to see them at all, actually, because this is the first time tomatoes have been planted in this garden, which wasn't even a garden until this year. I thought that hornworms only appeared after you have already had a year of tomatoes behind you. Live and learn, I guess! I will, however, be closely patrolling my tomatoes for other hornworms. I am looking forward to tomatoes too much to let these creepy creatures damage my plants!

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