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Old August 21, 2013   #1
Redbaron
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Default braconid wasp

WOO HOO!

Finally after years of waiting I finally found my first braconid wasp parasitized tomato hornworm! For those who don't know about this awesome biological control look here: Tomato Hornworm Parasitized by Braconid Wasp

If you happen to see this, DON'T squish it. DON'T spray it. Just leave it alone. That caterpillar's days are numbered. Those white cocoons harbor one of the most effective biological controls for us tomato growers!

I have waited many years for these guys to finally show up here in my part of Oklahoma. Now my patience has finally paid off! Happy days!
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Old August 21, 2013   #2
saltmarsh
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Here's a little more about their life cycle. They overwinter in the pupa of their host caterpillar, so it might be a good idea to leave the hornworms alone toward the end of the season.

http://www.beesnwasps.com/wasps/Braconids
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Old August 21, 2013   #3
RayR
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Congrats Redbaron! Once the wasps know that your garden is a good place to find victims, they'll stick around in following years. I think the key is don't use any broad spectrum insecticides unless absolutely necessary because they kill the good bugs as well as the bad.
Haven't had any parasitized hornworms yet this year myself , but have seen parasitized aphids on tomato plants.

Last year, the wasps took care of all the aphids and hormworms for me.
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Old August 21, 2013   #4
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Good deal for you. Great insect! Really cool to see them growing out of the hornworm. My problems with Tomato hornworms have been much reduced by these beneficials in the last few years. 2011 manually picked and exterminated about 2 dozen hornworms and only saw 1 parasitized. 2012 exterminated about a dozen and saw 4 or 5 parasitized. 2013 picked and exterminated 2 hornworms and have seen 3 parsitized. I hope they don't leave due to lack of food.

Glenn
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Old August 21, 2013   #5
Smithma
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That is good news, I have picked about 6 hornworms this season, None with any signs of wasp cocoons, I always look for them. I am letting some of my basil and cilantro flower as I have read it will attract these wasps.
Mike
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Old August 22, 2013   #6
Ken4230
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They are my favorite garden guardian. I watched one attack a huge hornworm at our old garden several years ago. Looking back now, it was fascinating and something not seen by a lot of people.
No big deal at the time and not knowing any better, i cut the hornworm in two after the wasp left. Now, i know better and leave them alone.

I've had almost no hornworms (4 or less) the last two years at this new garden. One of them had about 2 dozen wasp eggs on it. I had an severe outbreak of white grubs and hornworms when we first moved here.
It was the worst garden i had grown in over 50 years. What little foliage would grow, the hornworms would devour. I had a KBX with one stem and three branches left. My garden looked like deer had been in a bean field.
I was desperate so i used a wintertime soil drench of Imidacloprid (don't fuss at me too much, Redbaron, i don't like the stuff either)

I don't think i have any grubs now, i do have dozens of bumblebees and honeybees, mostly in the cukes and squash. I see the occasional wasp out on patrol.

I have always wondered where they make their nest. The only place i have ever seen them, other than in the garden, is on or behind the bark of Shagbark hickory trees. I have no idea where they live.

Thanks for posting this, Redbaron.

Last edited by Ken4230; August 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM. Reason: small addition
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Old August 23, 2013   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithma View Post
That is good news, I have picked about 6 hornworms this season, None with any signs of wasp cocoons, I always look for them. I am letting some of my basil and cilantro flower as I have read it will attract these wasps.
Mike
Grow a lot of cilantro, dill, oregano and some basil myself. Always let them flower because I'm a bit lazy on pruning the herbs. Not only are they beautiful and the dill and cilantro self seed but the flowers are always filled with numerous kinds of bees and wasps.

Glenn
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Old August 23, 2013   #8
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Good to hear Redbaron...and nice linked photo. Important info to know in case any of us find a tomato hornworm like that...Thanks for posting.
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Old August 23, 2013   #9
themarta
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Excellent!I too spotted one parasitazed this season for the very first time ever on my tomatoes. All is as it should be in nature
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Old March 3, 2014   #10
RootLoops
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i love these things! they didn't show up til the season was almost over but once i saw the first tomato worm with eggs on it it wasn't long at all before every TW i saw was full of em. i hope they were able to survive the winter somewhere and return a little earlier this year. this was probably the coolest thing i saw last season, it's amazing what all bugs you can see when you don't just wipe them all out with pesticide
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Old June 23, 2015   #11
Jonnyhat
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this thread inspired me, I had a cabbage worm problem breakout this week on my kale, chard, cabbage and eggplant. not the same wasps but I ordered 5000 of these mini wasps that just target caterpillar eggs/larva for my garden for $12. I cant wait to let these guys reek havoc on these eggs
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Old June 23, 2015   #12
saltmarsh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnyhat View Post
this thread inspired me, I had a cabbage worm problem breakout this week on my kale, chard, cabbage and eggplant. not the same wasps but I ordered 5000 of these mini wasps that just target caterpillar eggs/larva for my garden for $12. I cant wait to let these guys reek havoc on these eggs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieris_rapae

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_looper

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_moth

3 reasons I've been unable to grow cabbage and broccoli here. Claud
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Old June 24, 2015   #13
Redbaron
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Quote:
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Bt solves that easily if it gets out of hand.
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Bill Mollison
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Old June 25, 2015   #14
Jonnyhat
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I have Bt and now Trichrogramma Wasps! 1/50th of an inch so cool.
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Old June 26, 2015   #15
bower
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Quote:
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These moths are a major pest of brassicas here. The most beautiful organic broccoli I've ever seen was planted in rows that were garlic the previous year, under row cover. Fantastic results.

The nastiest infestation ever was kale planted in a bed that was kale the year before and allowed to hang on into fall and winter. Covered with row cover after seeding... no good!
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