Battle of the pests-Hornworms

I've decided to start a running guide on how to deal with pests.  My first one was Aphids. 

Now I've dealt with hornworms the past two summers and I've done numerous things to get rid of hornworms.  Some have worked great and some have had some not so great results.

  • LadyBugs: These are only beneficial when the hornworms are still just eggs.  The ladybugs will eat the eggs which, of course, means no more hornworms.  My only issue with this is I've only had very limited success with this.  I've had ladybugs in my yard but I've also still had hornworms so obviously the ladybugs didn't get to the hornworms before they could hatch.
  • Cornmeal:  This is a tip I received from another gardener and I really am not certain if it truly did work.  Lightly spray your tomato plant (or any plant that is being attacked by hornworms) with a mist of water.  Then sprinkle the plant with plain old cornmeal.  Supposedly the hornworm will eat the cornmeal covered leaves and then explode as the cornmeal expands in its stomach.  Now the reason I'm not certain if it worked or not is because after I did this I noticed almost no more hornworms.  I did not find any exploded hornworms but that could be because a bird came by and snatched it up.  We've left smooshed hornworms on the patio in the evening and the next morning they're gone so obviously a bird has came by and grabbed the little snack we left for it. So I guess you could try this out and see if it works for you.  If you notice any exploded hornworms please let me know!  I'd like to know if this really works.
  • Bacillus Thuringiensis: I just discoved this one so I haven't even used it yet!  I only discovered it when I had to start dealing with cabbage worms.  I have found it mentioned all over the internet that it does work though which makes total sense.  Bacillus Thuringiensis (commonly called BT) is actually a naturally occuring bacterium that when ingested by certain types of worms will infect and then kill the worm.  The really great thing about BT is it is completely safe for humans and it will not harm the beneficial insects like earthworms, ladybugs, and lacewings.  I will definitely be trying this next year!
  • Pick them off: This I find is VERY effective.  Simply look for the damage from the hornworm.  Eaten leaves with only stems left.  If you see their feces that's another hint of where to look.  Now just allow your eyes to relax and start looking slowly around the area.  A great bonus to this is it's very relaxing to do this as it almost becomes a meditative act.  We like to just pick these off and then give them to our 5 year old son.  He likes to stomp on them and obviously the birds like it too because they come by our yard later and grab the remains.  Only negative to this option is it DOES take a while, especially if you have a lot of tomato plants. 
  • Braconid Wasp:  This is the slowest method ever.  Yes it does work but only if you're totally okay with the Hornworm voraciously eating your tomato plant.  You might as well give over a few branches to the thing while it merrily munches on your tomato plant.  More or less what happens is the Wasp lays eggs on the hornworm and the wasp larvae slowly eat the hornworm from the inside out.  What a way to die.  Yuck!
There are a few other options out there but I'm only going to list the things I have completely tried or the things that make perfect sense to me.  I have heard that Diatomaceous earth, insecticidal soap, and a spray made from petunia leaves works but I've never tried those. 

I have noticed hornworms most definitely on my tomatoes.  They supposed also attack eggplants, bell peppers, dill and potatoes but I have yet to see any hornworms on any of those plants in my garden.

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