Farming is amazing! You get to be outdoors, breathing fresh air, soaking up the sun, getting much-needed exercise and seeing the miracles of God’s creation all around you. But lest anybody think it’s all joy and pleasure…enter the hornworm!
In addition to many other crops, we are growing a significant number of tomato plants this summer. Varieties include: cherry, beefsteak, Roma and heirloom. The hornworm is an equal-opportunity pest in that it likes all of our tomato varieties! Vigilance is key to win the battle. These guys love to hang out on your tomato plant leaves and eat, eat, eat! Tell-tale signs of hornworm presence are stripped tomato branches and fecal matter sprinkled on both plant and ground. Here are a couple of pics – one concealed on the plant and another in plain view.
Typically, morning and evening are best to catch the beasts during their destructive moments. Personally, I clip off the branch that they are currently feeding on and put them in a bucket along with (hopefully) several of their friends. Then comes the moment of choice…do I decapitate, feed alive to the chickens or perform some other life-ending action? Any of these methods are very effective and very welcomed! It’s incredible how much destruction one hornworm can exact if left to its own devices. So be diligent to inspect your plants at least every other day for this pest. And let him know who’s boss!!
Now some might be quick to label me as too cruel in my treatment of hornworms. I beg to differ. Think about your own body – you have red blood cells and white blood cells. The job of red blood cells is to feed, provide for and nourish. On the other hand, white blood cells are there to search and destroy. If they didn’t eradicate the enemy, we would all be dead! So it is with farming. When any pest, vermin or intruder dares to destroy what you and God partnered to grow, take no prisoners! I genuinely feel sorry for hornworms at Liberty Acres…they’re messin’ with the wrong guy!!