Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shining for Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworm caught in the act of defoliating a tomato stem.
Tomato hornworms fluoresce a bit when using a long-wave UV flashlight.
So, what are you doing on this beautiful Saturday evening? Something as exciting as us, I hope! Yup, we're shining for tomato hornworm caterpillars. In my youth, I would get together with friends and shine for gators, possums, and deer (always an adventure;-) But, now that I am older, I prefer the more sedate act of peering under tomato leaves in search of caterpillars that are munching my plants to death. Drew found that using our long-wave UV flashlight really lit up the caterpillars and made it so easy to see them. Whoooo! This is about all the excitement I can handle;-) Tonight's tally: 5 good-sized caterpillars.

Here is a view of a young tomato hornworm, recently plucked from one of the tomato plants, shortly before meeting its doom. Tomorrow morning, I am going to sweep all the hornworm poop off the deck and then check again tomorrow evening to see if there is more poop in evidence. Then, we'll check the underside of the leaves, nearest the poop, to find the caterpillars and help them meet their doom, repeat, repeat, repeat. I know, I know...I should leave one sacrificial tomato plant for them to chow upon, but, but, but...maybe next year!

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