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What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

Posted by driftwoodtx 10 - Los Angeles (My Page) on
Thu, May 20, 10 at 18:58

Hi, all.

I noticed a fuzzy like substance on the back of a tomato leaf and couldn't figure out what it was. When I cut the leaf off, I noticed what looked like a worm hiding under a fibrous cocoon-like webbing. Of course, I had to get the camera out as I'm obsessed with learning about my garden pests, both friend and foe.

I googled for the last two hours trying to find similar photos and came up empty.

Was this a hornworm? Other caterpillar? What stage of life was it in (or, if you have a link you can direct me to, I'd like to learn more.)

Thanks for any input you can provide.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Thu, May 20, 10 at 23:19

That's a pupa. It was a caterpillar (but not a hornworm) before this and will be a moth in the next stage of its life.

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

Thanks Jean. That gave me the clues I needed to learn more about the stages of caterpillars. I know I studied this in school about 50 years ago, but my memory isn't that good. ;-)

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

  • Posted by heidiho St. Martinville, La. (My Page) on
    Sat, May 22, 10 at 23:48

I have this too; so what do we use to kill these catapillars?

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

Heidi -

I just look for them and take off the entire leaf if it is in the cocoon like threads. I found one on my peppers the other day, too. I guess you could just leave them as they are done with their feeding stage and can't harm your plant (until the next generation - moth, egg, new caterpillar).

I had a pretty bad case of cabbage loopers (small green inchworms) and I sprayed once with Thuricide which has kept most of those at bay. That product should also work to repel larger caterpillars and hornworms.

Good luck!

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

Hornworms supposedly pupate in the soil, so that rules out your candidate as a hornworm.

I have been growing tomatoes in Southern California for some 15 years now, and hornworms are infrequent but always shocking uninvited guests... found typically in the late season. In spring, I find cabbage loopers, which are far more numerous but smaller and not capable of defoliating a plant as quickly as hornworms. I have used a permeathrin-based insecticide to knock out cabbage loopers when they are too numerous to hand-erradicate. Hornworms demand only an exercise in visual perception and extrication; chemicals are not necessary. They are extremely well-camouflaged and tend to line up on plant stems. Cabbage loopers do their dirty deeds on the undersides of leaves. Watch for black poops as they betrays the presence of these masters of camouflage. Cabbage loopers "get around" on the plant rather deftly, so they will likely have moved or disappeared by the time you react to a poop discovery.

RE: What the heck did I kill? Hornworm?

Thanks, johnpeter. I'm also in southern California.

I have yet to find a hornworm or fruitworm (knock on wood) but I have lots of cabbage loopers. I've gotten pretty good at spotting them but yesterday I found a whole slew of eggs that I think were looper eggs. I disposed of the leaf as it was covered with eggs and a phids. (pic below)

If the Thuricide (BT) doesn't prove to be adequate, I may try the permeathrin.

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