This past week we’ve been harvesting tomatoes by the bucketful. The hot dry weather has kicked ripening into overdrive. It’s also increased the amount of water and care we are giving the garden. While picking Cherry tomatoes with one of our residence, I noticed the tops of our plants had been eaten. Her immediate reaction was ‘those pesky deer”. I told her we never have deer in the garden and that we should take a closer look at what might have done the damage. First, do you see any tracks? You are bound to see at least one hoof print left behind. Not a one was visible. Next I suggested she take a closer look at the plant. Especially the ground surrounding the plant. We grow our tomatoes on fabric to aid with weed control and reflect heat. She noticed dark green frass around the base of the plant. Precisely the clue we needed. This dark green frass is the waste of the tomato hornworm.
For those of you who have never experience the tomato hornworm it is a green caterpillar that is four inches long with a spike like horn on it’s tail. It’s one of the largest caterpillars in North America. So where does this caterpiller come from?Well it’s the larvea of the Five Spotted Hawk Moth. The best way to eliminate them from your garden is to hand pick them and drop them into a container of soapy water.