It is hornworm season again, grrr. The past few years I have had intermittent problems with hornworms on my tomato plants. There are two types of hornworms that eat tomato plants, the tobacco hornworm and the tomato hornworm. I talked briefly about the hornworms last year in a blog post https://gardenrn.squarespace.com/config/pages/54f7d839e4b011c327fa6419 and incorrectly called the above guy a tomato hornworm. In Wisconsin, the tomato hornworm is rare, it has a blue horn and green markings, the tobacco hornworm above has a red horn and white markings. They both look very similar and behave the same with the superpower ability to eat an entire tomato plant overnight. They are squishy, light green tomato ingesters that are difficult to see until it is too late. Their light color and body habitus allows them to hide next to the stem of the plant or under leaves going unnoticed. Three days ago I noticed a small pile of hornworm poo in the tomatoes in my straw bale garden. Hornworm poop is brown/grey and pooped out in a small square. I looked and found two small hornworms, put them in a container and immediately went inside to order a black flashlight. The hornworms are irradescent in the black light.
The flashlight arrived yesterday and when it was dark outside, I sprayed myself head to toe with mosquito spray and out I went.
The light is amazing and it is crazy that they can be seen at night. I made three passes through each garden, either picking the disgusting squishy hornworms off by hand or by cutting off the leaf or branch that they were on. If you had to guess, how many hornworms do you think I found? take a guess, 5? 10? No, I found and had to pluck off 35 hornworms!!!! 35! Yuk, yuk, yuk. That is all I have to say about that for now except that there is nothing you can really do to stop them from coming but you have to be diligent about watching for them. If you have a lot of tomato plants, I encourage you to purchase a black light. The flashlight company that sells the black light advertises it for finding dog urine in the house but I don't want to talk about THAT right now.
I also have to tell you friends that I have been busy, busy, busy bringing in monarch eggs and raising them to butterflies. It has taken up a lot of my time but is so worth it. I'll write about that later this week. Happy Gardening!