Hornworms on Thai Pepper Plant

ham01July 23, 2007

We are growing some tomats and peppers in containers and have been picking tomat hornworms off of our tomats. We did not think to check on the pepper plants. One day, I was inspecting our Thai peppers and noticed that what looked like someone was picking our peppers. The next day we noticed little black droppings around the pepper plant and sure enough, a hugh fat hornworm was eating the Thai hot peppers. Other sweet and hot banana and poblano were not infested.

Has any one had this pest and if so, how do we control it besides picking them off? why would the hornworm prefer the hot type?

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The tomato hornworms may actually be tobacco hornworms. Since tomatoes, peppers and tobacco are related plants, the hornworms can use all of them as food. I think that they do not prefer hot peppers over sweet ones. This cat just happened to be at the Thai Hot plant.

You can spray your plants with pyrethrins or use BT, which kills only the caterpillars. I do not usually spray anything for hornworms. Our son collects them and feeds them some tomato leaves until they pupate in a jar, which has sand on the bottom.

This one emerged from the cocoon about a year later.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 9:56AM
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Fantastic pictures!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 12:10PM
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Really nice!!

I've kept a few as 'pets' myself over the years.

They don't care if peppers are hot or not & prefer leaves 1st, green pods 2nd and ripe pods 3rd. The droppings (I call them grenades) are the color of what they are eating.

Thanks for sharing!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 2:08PM
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Thanks guys.

That time we were lucky to see the moth actually emerge. The other ones have come out from the cocoon while no one was watching.

I have been looking for Monarch caterpillars, but have not found any yet. They are nicer since they eat weeds and it does not take so long time to see the transformation to a butterfly.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 4:13PM
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Thanks. Nice pics. The Thai pepper plant has no ripe pods but green and it did not eat leaves just hot peppers, not sweet peppers. How could a tobacco hornworm be in my area where no tobacco is grown?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 11:10PM
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The tomato and tobacco horworms do both eat tomato and pepper plants. Normally people call both of them just tomato hornworms.
I'm just a bit north of Chicago and all of the hornworms in our garden have been the Manduca sexta (Tobacco hornworm) and we do not have any tobacco farms near.

The caterpillar must have liked the peppers more than the leaves. The Thai peppers may have given this cat just the right culinary satisfaction, so he had no need to taste any of the other peppers ;-).
I wonder if they like to eat just green peppers and not the ripe ones. I have seen them eat green tomatoes, but they never seem to attack ripe ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato and tobacco hornworm information

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 10:24AM
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