How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms
Plants are some of the most defenseless organisms in this planet. They lack the ability to defend themselves and this is why they are feasted upon by different organisms and creatures. Pests can damage crops and these pests can multiply to keep on feeding on different plants. A perfect example would be hornworms that feed on tomato.
Tomato hornworms, is one of the pests that feed on tomato plants and it can cause serious damage to the plant. A hornworm’s larvae grow up to 4 inches and they are the ones that usually make contact with the plant, feeding on leaves. The larvae will eventually grow into moths and they will continue the cycle by laying eggs on the plant.
Aside from feeding on the plant, hornworm larvae would also leave their droppings or what is known as frass. Taking them out can be a herculean task, but the results are priceless as you see that your tomatoes grow well. The natural way of taking care of tomatoes is the way to go since insecticides can affect the health of the plants:
Pull them out one by one
As previously mentioned, getting rid of tomato hornworms presents a herculean task that can take a while before they are totally eliminated. If you have the time, you can use your fingers or tweezers in picking out the hornworm larvae from the plant. You can kill off the larvae by dropping them off a bucket of water, drowning them in effect or slicing them in half. You need a keen eye to be able to see larvae since they often blend with the rest of the plant. You can either pick them out during dusk since they stay close in the plant’s interior making a formation. But they are visible after the sun is gone since they venture out of the plant.
Introduce a predator
There are parasitic wasps that feed on hornworms which can help in preventing their spread. Hornworms are stubborn bugs that would just keep laying eggs on your tomatoes. To prevent them from spreading their offspring, capture them and put them inside a glass jar. Place them close to the tomato plants as this will cause them to eject little white substances which are cocoons of parasitic wasps. When the wasps grow, they will kill the hornworms in the jar. Release the wasps into the plants where hornworms are present to finish them off.
Other bugs that can be introduced in your garden if there are larger infestations at hand are lady beetles, green lacewigs and braconid. Their presence will ensure population control in your garden without harming the crops.
Natural insecticides should be sprayed on infected plants to kill off the hornworm larvae. What you can spray is a bacterium that produces crystal proteins which is considered a poison to the larvae; this is known as the bacillus thuringiensis or Bt; this spray come with labels that provide directions for use. Spray the appropriate amount of Bt so it wouldn’t have any negative effect on the plants.
Till the soil
There are times that the larvae would leave the plant once they entered their adult stage. These larvae would burrow into the soil to pupate. By tilling the soils, the pupae that live under the soil will be killed, preventing them to grow to adult moths which can lay eggs once again.