I wish that I had gotten a better picture, but I can’t find this little guy in my garden right now. Can you find him? I know he’s still in there, eating up my tomato plants. He’s really hard to spot because the pattern on his back blends in with the leaf pattern. I don’t have any idea how much of my tomato plants they’ve already eaten. Apparently this is a tomato hornworm (could also be a tobacco hornworm, they eat tomatoes too). I knew that something was eating away at my tomatoes because whole stalks would go missing. I just chalked it up to rabbits, but it turns out these little guys have a voracious appetite. I originally noticed them because of a parasite that is apparently common, the braconid wasp. The presence of cocoons on the caterpillar that looks like rice grains means the parasite has already taken over. I found four of these in my garden just two weeks ago. I immediately went to look it up (gotta love Google). Several sites mentioned that the parasite would kill the hornworms. They recommended picking them off the plants, but I just wasn’t for it. These guys were 3 or 4 inches long and covered in parasitic cocoons. Blah!! I watched for a couple of days and they didn’t move locations. Then in almost no time they died. Great, right? My tomato plants are flourishing again. But alas, I found this little guy on my plant over the weekend. I didn’t see anymore, but it’s late in the season, and I’m hoping to just collect this last batch. Besides, despite this hungry fellow and his brothers, my tomato plants have grown like crazy. I don’t care to invest in pesticides this late and the primary organic solution is the wasps. I guess if I see him again, I can pull him off, but what to do with him? References say squish, but he looks kinda meaty for squishing…just gross.
Perhaps more interestingly is that they have hardly bothered my grape tomatoes. I have at times noticed something had munched away at them too, but the damage was not nearly as severe. All so very mysterious since they don’t really seem to differentiate by species (it would seem they like peppers too).
I’ll try to get a better photo if I spot him again…I do hope it’s just the one left.