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The Clue of the Poo Review…

…Or don’t get overconfident

When last we left our hero he was very proud of himself for noticing caterpillar poo on some tomato plants which led to discovering a few hornworms which were removed before much damage could happen.

However, when he made it to the garden the next week he removed an additional 20 (or so) much larger hornworms from the plants. There was more leaf damage and a number of half-eaten tomatoes, but still the damage was not to any extraordinary level. And surely, having removed 25 hornworms from only 8 plants in two weeks, the problem must be solved.

Then when he drove up the next week he saw this.

Severe Hornworm Damage

Tomato Plant Denuded by Hornworms

The worst hornworm damage he’d ever seen.

Not every plant was munched this badly, but all had a lot of damage. Luckily, the hornworms had all left to pupate and there is only one generation of hornworms per year in our area. I also think that the damage happened early enough that the plants will have an opportunity to recover, in fact, new leaf growth has started already.

I am a strong advocate of using the least ecologically damaging methods for controlling pests and ordinarily if you’re dealing with a hornworm infestation at your home garden and you’re there every day to keep up with hand picking of them, then that is certainly sufficient. However, what I’ve learned I this case how much damage can happen in such a relatively short time. So, if I see an infestation like this in the future at a garden where I’m only there once a week, I’ll use BT spray to control the problem.

BT is short for Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria species which when ingested by a caterpillar (most types of caterpillars) will grow and kill the caterpillar. Because it kills caterpillars other than just hornworms, I try not to use it, but in a case like this I would. You can buy BT spray at most nurseries or garden centers.

I guess the lesson here is don’t under estimate Mother Nature

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