I think I’ve been cursed. There is a tribe in the Sudan that believes much of what happens in life is due to witches. These witches either knowingly or unknowingly curse people. I think that this explanation is just as good as any other for what recently happened.
The desert is a harsh climate and can sometimes present challenges that many other gardeners will never have to face. In return for putting up with endless heat and dry conditions, desert gardeners don’t have as many issues with bacteria and mold. I also thought that there were a few pests that we were safe from. One of which is the tomato hornworm. Boy was I wrong! For anyone who has ever had the pleasure of encountering these guys, you are aware of just how destructive they can be.
I went out for a quick water around 7am on Wednesday at which time everything was normal. I went back outside at 7pm to water again (remember we don’t really have a problem with mold so watering at night isn’t an issue) only to find fat, green monsters had ravage my tomato plants. Somewhere in a matter of 12 hours the eggs had hatched and these creepy little things ate literally half my tomato plants. I was flabbergasted considering this was one of the hottest days of the year at 112 degrees.
The tomato hornworm is actually a large caterpillar that can reach up to 4 inches long. They eventually turn into the hummingbird moth. They are not only ugly but also quite mean. We proceeded to pull them off but it wasn’t an easy task. They hold on tight and are ready to fight you every bit of the way. While they do look creepy, with fake eyes along their body, horn and of course the green slime they ooze most of these features are just to deter predators.
If you are unlucky enough to find yourself a victim of these creatures of mass destruction, grab a pair of pliers and gloves and get to work immediately pulling them off. They work really fast so you don’t want to delay. If you can’t bring yourself to pulling them off, pick up some BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) spray. Try to check you tomatoes often over the following days to be sure another egg hasn’t hatched.
I hope that you never have to deal with the problem of tomato horn worms. They are unbelievably destructive and just downright creepy.
Luckily I think I caught them in time and my tomatoes will survive.
Good luck and happy gardening.