Wondering what the green worm is on your tomato plant?….
Now’s the time to inspect your tomato plants closely for the presence of large green worms. You’ll likely see foliar feeding damage or frass (poop) on leaves before you actually see the horn worm since it camouflages itself well among the leaves and stems.
If you do find them on your tomatoes and notice it covered in what looks like white rice, remove the caterpillar from the plant, but don’t kill it. It’s covered with the eggs of a beneficial parasitic wasp. Consider yourself fortunate. Soon the eggs will hatch and the larvae will feed on the host caterpillar. It may sound disgusting, but the braconid wasp is one of nature’s beneficial predatory insects that are great at keeping pest populations in check.
If you find a tomato horn worm without the wasp eggs, feel free to pick it off and squash it, drop it in a pail of water or put it near your bird feeders (yumm). No need to grab a spray can — they’re easily controlled. But, be sure you get all of its siblings. I like to keep a small jar with vinegar and a lid in my garden and scoop them in to go for a swim.
So far this year, though, I haven’t seen horn worms in my garden as I have a good population of beneficial wasps that I let hatch and multiply last season and they seem to be doing a nice job of patrolling for pests.
For more information on organic and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, call 908.309.6611 to speak with one of our Plant Health Care specialists or contact us at: OrganicPlantCareLLC.com/contact-us/
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