Monday, June 14, 2010

Learning About Bugs

This morning's harvest:

A nice lot of organic produce.  (Yes, I carried them in my skirt.) 

If you're my friend on Facebook, you may have seen me talking about the hornworms I was dealing with last week.  If you're not my Facebook friend, by the way, feel free to add me.  If we have mutual friends, or if I've at least heard of you, I'll probably accept your friend request.  As my Facebook friend, you would get to join in exciting discussions about hornworms.  Did you know that squished-up hornworm juice is an effective hornworm repellent?  That interesting little tip came from Nat.  Thanks, Nat. 

Anyway, hornworms can do a lot of damage.  They mostly ate leaves, but I did find one big guy who had eaten half a tomato.  I'm trying to avoid using pesticides (also trying to avoid spending money) so I manually removed the hornworms and dropped them into soapy water.  I did that every morning for three or four days, and that was it.  No more hornworms.

I did get some help from the wasps, actually.  Apparently, certain wasps like to eat hornworms.  Take a look at this specimen.
I know, he's hard to see, because he matches my tomato plants so well.  The red horn (upper end) and diagonal stripes indicate that he is a tobacco hornworm as opposed to a tomato hornworm.  But he still eats tomato plants.  See the white things all over his back?  Those are the cocoons of a tiny little wasp called the Cotesia wasp.  An adult wasp injects eggs into the hornworm.  The eggs hatch and the larva feed on the hornworm's insides.  When full grown, they emerge from the (now dead) hornworm and spin these cocoons on its back.  After a few days, they cut circular holes in the cocoons (you can see the holes above) and emerge as adult wasps, ready to lay eggs in more hornworms.

I like learning things, don't you?

Some of my tomatoes are sparkly.  I wonder why?  Maybe tomorrow I will learn about sparkly tomatoes.


  1. I now know more about hornworms from reading this post than i previously did in my 30 years of life. thanks!

  2. Must be cause cause I'm pregnant, but that was all kind of difficult to read. :D

  3. yucky those worms are worse looking than normal garden worms... :P

  4. Ew! Thank you for that knowledge. I need to go share it with someone squeamish now. :D

  5. And now I know the rest of the story...about those white things on the worms that is. :) Thanks.


  6. carl said those spots on your tomatoes are from stink bugs.

  7. I was wondering if that might be the case! Thanks Steph!


Anonymous comments will be permitted so long as you identify yourself in some way. Thanks!