Hope you already had your breakfast because this bug will make you sick, if you find him in your garden! Our neighbor brought over this ugly bug to show us last night on what he found on his prize tomato plants. He was in his garden and ran upon this ugly guy on his tomato branch and freaked out, and for good reason. Not only is this bug ugly, he will take down your tomato plants – and if there is one, there are many more.
We did some research last night to find out more about this Horn Worm and this is what we found:
Tomato hornworms are known to eat various plants from the family Solanaceae, commonly attacking tomato, eggplant, pepper, tobacco, moonflowers and potato. They are often found on defoliated tomato plants, the caterpillar clinging to the underside of a branch near the trunk. They are difficult to spot due to their green coloration. Gardeners’ anecdotes have mentioned the use of a blacklight to find the hornworms on tomato plants at night, where they glow under the ultraviolet. They can be reduced by planting marigold flowers around these plants.
Hornworm eggs are spherical to oval in shape, measure about 1.5 mm (0.059 in) in diameter, and vary in color from light green to white. Eggs are deposited principally on the lower surface of foliage, but also on the upper surface. Duration of the egg stage is two to eight days, but averages five days.
The tomato hornworm is a green caterpillar, with seven light-green v-shaped markings which extend from the dorsal line to its sides. At the rear end, the caterpillar has a red, bumpy horn, from which the name for the “hornworm” is derived. Nine spiracles (colored black and yellow) appear on each side of the body and are used for respiration. Caterpillars can be prey to parasitoid wasps of the family Braconidae.
During the summer months, moths will emerge from pupae in about two weeks. Moths emerge from the soil, mate, and then begin to deposit the eggs of the next generation on tomato plants. By early fall, the pupae will remain in the soil all winter and emerge as a moth the following spring.
So, if you happen upon any of these in your garden, remove them immediately and look for the white looking larva that they have left on the underside of your leaves as this will produce more of these butt ugly bugs!