Last week we went to OK to visit my parents. This is what we came home to:
What could cause all of this damage in one week? Tomato Hornworms. The bane of my (gardening) existence. Seriously.
We have dealt with these bastards for two years now. Last year was worse than the first. They are ugly, mean, fat and juicy. Ech. They can obliterate a plant overnight. They will attack you.
If you have tomatoes (they like pepper plants, too) you need to be en gaurde. Look for branches that suddenly have no leaves, the tell-tale sign. When they first pop out, they are nearly impossible to see, so unless you are blessed with eagle eyes and the patience of Job, you will probably see the destruction before you find any worms.
These things are excellently camouflaged, and occasionally I’ll spot one without much searching, but the best way I know to locate them is to let the poo lead the way. They drop a trail of bumpy, cube-ish, green (fresh) to dark brown poo. They are usually clinging to the undersides of the leaves, so I pop a squat, find the poo, and look up. Once you find a few, they are pretty easy to spot.
(Tomato Hornworm Egg / Out of Focus Poo/ Hatched Egg)
I have a recipe for a hot pepper spray you can use to deter them, but once you have them, the easiest and most effective thing you can do to get rid of them is to pick them off. I recommend kitchen tongs, because I wasn’t kidding…they will reach back and attack you. And I am squeamish. A lot of gardeners squish them, but if you’re like me and can’t, pluck them off with then tongs and drop them into a jug of soapy water. They will drown quickly. Don’t make the mistake of setting it aside and forgetting about it. You will pay for it with the constant smell of death. Everywhere.
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
4 cloves of Garlic
1 Quart Water
Combine all ingredients and blend well in a blender. Strain through cheesecloth before pouring into your sprayer. This is very important as a clogged up sprayer is very annoying.
Keep your eyes peeled!!