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YIKES! The huge caterpillar thing

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palmettogal blog photos
Joined: 5/07/2008
Location: Southeastern US
Posts: 394
Posted: Jul/01/2008 6:26 AM PST

Yesterday afternoon I walked outside and saw this big, fat, long green thing slinking through the front yard. Grabbed my camera and took pictures because I had never seen one before (sorry, I didn't bring it with me to post) and found out it is a tobacco or tomato hornworm. It was 4-5 inches long and a good 1/2 inch or better in circumference. Quite beautiful, actually, but when my husband prodded it with a stick it whipped its head around like it was going to attack. God forbid I find one of those things in my tomatoes, but if I do is there an option other than picking it off of the plant? I don't think I could make myself touch one in a million years.
Aurora blog photos
Joined: 4/24/2008
Location: Chesapeake VA
Posts: 1954
Posted: Jul/01/2008 8:02 AM PST

Sounds really yucky and scary! I don't think I would want to come across one either
I'd try spraying it with a mix of water, dishsoap, and oil. That will usually suffocate soft-bodied nasties
carolyncat353 blog photos
Joined: 4/29/2008
Location: Westlake, La
Posts: 10041
Posted: Jul/01/2008 8:40 AM PST

Yep, those tomato horn worms are big, ugly looking things. It's when your picking tomatoes and come face to face with one that really creeps you out!! The damage you can do trying to get away! Nope, ya gotta pick em and squish em. They are really the worm (the correct term escapes me!) of a beautiful moth or butterfly. I found one on my datura and it had eaten almost the whole darn thing! Didn't know they liked them, too. They can totally deleaf a whole tomato plant in no time!
witt blog photos
Joined: 3/28/2008
Location: Lancaster, SC
Posts: 16643
Moderator
Posted: Jul/02/2008 4:12 AM PST

Use garden gloves! The hard part is seeing them on the plant. Cat is right. They can take out your tomato plants overnight!
Toucan photos
Joined: 9/09/2008
Location: Tres Rios de Cartago
Posts: 42
Posted: Sep/11/2008 3:35 PM PST

Quote:
Originally posted by carolyncat353
They are really the worm (the correct term escapes me!) of a beautiful moth or butterfly. I found one on my datura and it had eaten almost the whole darn thing! Didn't know they liked them, too. They can totally deleaf a whole tomato plant in no time!


they are the larva of a neat moth called a hummingbird moth. that particular species feeds on nightshades. tomatoes and datura are both nightshades.
ga_girl photos
Joined: 8/02/2008
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1290
Posted: Sep/11/2008 6:11 PM PST

Another real BIG one is the Hickory Horned Devil, the caterpillar of the Regal moth.

http://hilarynelson.com/Hobbies/Bugs/HickoryHorned DevilCaterpillar
aimee blog photos
Joined: 6/21/2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 847
Posted: Sep/11/2008 9:51 PM PST

See, how weird is that. I'd never heard of a hummingbird moth until Tuesday of this week. I was talking to my neighbor, who was also in her garden, and she said she used to come home from work in the evening and sit outside and watch the hummingbird moths on her Datura Inoxia. She just loved watching them, said they were beautiful. I wonder if she knows that's where those awful green worms come from. Makes me feel kinder toward the worm somehow.


Hey, just did some looking!! Check out these two sites, the first one especially, and click on the pictures of the moths. You may find yourself looking excitedly for those worms instead of squashing them.

http://www.birds-n-garden.com/hummingbird_moths.ht ml#rearing
http://72.41.49.149/hummingbirdmoth.html
Aurora blog photos
Joined: 4/24/2008
Location: Chesapeake VA
Posts: 1954
Posted: Sep/13/2008 5:15 AM PST

Quote:
Originally posted by ga_girl
Another real BIG one is the Hickory Horned Devil, the caterpillar of the Regal moth.

http://hilarynelson.com/Hobbies/Bugs/HickoryHorned DevilCaterpillar


That thing would cause an "EEEKKK!!!!" and comical rapid retreat from me!
I sure wouldn't want to come across that in my gardens!
Lastniceguy photos
Joined: 3/01/2009
Location: So Cal
Posts: 135
Posted: Mar/10/2009 10:01 AM PST

Look to see if there are white eggs sticking up on it's back. If there are those are eggs of a beneficial wasp and they say to let those go so the eggs hatch and kill many more of the tomato horn worm. I don't know how long it takes though. Would kind of hate to sacrifice a whole plant for the good of others.
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