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Old July 10, 2017   #1
pjhootch
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Default Hornworm Horror

Is anyone having a particularly gruesome hornworm problem this year? I am in Eastern Iowa, in the middle of town. I've had tomatoes here out in the country in farmland and in my backyard for years. I have never seen anything like this. We don't have much sun in our yard, so I am growing 4 plants on the Southeast side of the house in the ground, and have about 6 more plants in large planters on my back patio.

We had a mild and short winter, early but slow spring... and have been inundated with all kinds of bugs like never before. But I have lost count of the hornworms I have pulled off these plants. I am starting to put them in my bird feeder out front. I am tired of picking them off every single day and finding more damage the next morning.

This is something I haven't had a problem with in about 23 years of growing backyard tomatoes here. I am revolted by squishing them now!
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Old July 10, 2017   #2
Starlight
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Oh ya!!!!!!!!! Worst year ever for them. I am making a note about the time I first started to see them all over the plants. I scouted all my plants twice this morning found two more loaded with wasp eggs and then neighbor came over to look at my tomatoes and when I was explaining to her about pruning from advice here, darn if I didn't spot another one and while I was trying to get it, she spotted another one right behind it. Both loaded with eggs.

Ginger/Marsha suggested in another thread here for me yesterday or day before to use BT. The birds don't seem to want to eat them. I haven't found a natural predator yet for them. I'm not even sure if there is some sort of trap crop for them or not.
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Old July 10, 2017   #3
pjhootch
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I wish mine were loaded with wasps. They are healthy, hungry and growing at an alarming rate. This morning's haul disappeared from the bird feeder, so something scooped them up. Either that, or they are in my front lawn, inching their way back to the tomato bed. We still have to splat the big guys though. The little ones went into the birdfeeder- the big three or four inch mutants might eat my friendly birds.
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Old July 10, 2017   #4
pmcgrady
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Only on six plants I planted at my cabin. Killed 6 of them already, they were big and did a lot of damage, even stripped 2 pepper plants. I squished them, not waiting for the wasps.
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Old July 10, 2017   #5
Worth1
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I haven't seen hide nor hair of one this year.

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Old July 10, 2017   #6
AlittleSalt
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The only one I saw was being carried off by a thread-wasted wasp (Or something that looks just like it)
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Old July 10, 2017   #7
Worth1
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Looks like Patti Labelle.

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Old July 10, 2017   #8
HudsonValley
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Not yet, but the other bugs are so numerous that it's drawing praying mantises and dragonflies to the garden like never before. (New this year: green stinkbugs and locust-like swarms of oriental beetles. What fun!) Another plus -- the local bats treat my yard like a smorgasbord each evening at sunset, and they're fun to watch.

I've been spraying Thuricide (BT) on the squash plants weekly to prevent vine-borers (haven't lost one yet) and will apply it to the tomatoes at the first sign of hornworms. I'm sure it'll be any day now...
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Old July 10, 2017   #9
gothicgardens
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I hadn't checked the tomato patch in two days but when I did found 7 hornworms. Two tomato plants and tomatoes were eaten down to the main stem. Found one more yesterday. I am in southeast Iowa.
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Old July 10, 2017   #10
brownrexx
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Unfortunately Bt is not going to help with squash vine borers because the larvae develop inside the stem and the BT is on the outside of the stem. Sorry.
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Old July 10, 2017   #11
HudsonValley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrexx View Post
Unfortunately Bt is not going to help with squash vine borers because the larvae develop inside the stem and the BT is on the outside of the stem. Sorry.
I thought that it killed the eggs, too, that are laid around the bases of the plants. No? Anyway, I also did BT stem injections with a syringe, so hopefully I'm covered. Last year I had already lost squash plants and had replanted seeds by this date; fingers crossed!
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Old July 10, 2017   #12
Worth1
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Not it doesn't kill the eggs, eggs cant eat.

Surround or Sevin dust on and around the stems.
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Old July 10, 2017   #13
brownrexx
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BT stem injections will work to kill the larvae that are inside the stem. I also do those. I also we plant some more squash after the first plants start producing so that I have back-up plants in case the first ones die after all.
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Old July 10, 2017   #14
HudsonValley
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Well, that's interesting. The other thing I used was spinosad a few weeks ago, when the cucumber beetles showed up. That could be why I haven't seen vine-borers yet. The Sevin will come out soon -- Japanese beetles have arrived -- but I don't use it on edibles unless really necessary. This year's bug bonanza might make it necessary!
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Old July 11, 2017   #15
gorbelly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HudsonValley View Post
I thought that it killed the eggs, too, that are laid around the bases of the plants. No? Anyway, I also did BT stem injections with a syringe, so hopefully I'm covered. Last year I had already lost squash plants and had replanted seeds by this date; fingers crossed!
It's a timing issue. BT and spinosad will help IF they're freshly applied/effective and on the plant surface consumed by the borer when it first bores into the plant. But obviously, it's easy to miss a small spot, have the spray not stick to every single place a borer could start boring, etc.

After it starts boring, you have to inject.

I spray my cucurbit plant bases with BT nearly daily or spinosad every few days once July rolls around. But I also check them them visually every day for eggs and picking them off and starting to inspect carefully for bore holes once I start seeing eggs. I haven't lost a squash plant to SVB and have only found 1 bore hole which never turned into a problem for the plant, but I only grow a few so can take the time to really stay on top of inspection.

I do suspect that I've lost cukes in the past to borers before I realized that SVBs sometimes make do with cucumber plants.

I sowed my squash very late this year, and so far I haven't seen any borer eggs at all. The plants may be too small still to give off whatever odors the borers use to find them, or maybe the borer emergence is delayed. But a nice side effect is that there isn't much difficulty in inspecting the bases because the plants are still small and the bases are still easy to access. A disadvantage is squash envy.
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