Natural Pest Control

We’re having a great tomato crop this year, which is a welcome relief after losing almost all of last year’s crop to blight.  Our old-fashioned heirlooms are difficult to grow, but they’re the best tasting tomatoes in the world.  So obviously they’ve been popular with our customers and we’ve been eating like royalty.

Blight is starting to rear its ugly head again, and the harvest will probably be cut short of a full season.  We have another garden of tomatoes on the way though and it should start producing soon.  Hopefully we’ll have tomatoes all summer.

With tomatoes, plant disease is a much bigger problem for us than pests.  But there are pests, the worst of which is the hornworm, which can do a lot of damage.

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When I was growing up I knew these as tobacco worms.  Tobacco is a nightshade, like tomatoes, and these worms love feasting on tobacco leaves as well.

Hornworms camouflage well.  The easiest way to find them is to look for damage to the plants and the worms’ droppings, which are easily recognizable.

Often I’ll find a hornworm that looks like this.

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The white cocoons were made by parasitic braconid wasp larvae. The wasps lay eggs under the skin of the worm.  After hatching, the larvae emerge, build their cocoons and consume the hornworm.

We remove hornworms when we find them.  If a worm has these cocoons on it, I remove it carefully from the plant and drop it outside the garden so as not to harm the wasp larvae

Nature’s hornworm control.   No posions necessary.