Why am I posting a photo of this big ugly tomato hornworm now in late October?? Because much to my surprise when I was cleaning up my garden this weekend, I came across this bugger in my tomatillos!!
Just about the same time, Max came by to clip some sage for the herb wreath program so I brought her back to see it…she can attest that the thing REALLY blends into the foliage as she was putting her face closer and closer to the plant until she realized it was right in front of her!
I was also surprised to learn that the tomato hornworm and the related tobacco hornworm are pests of the “nightshades,” or Solanaceae family of plants. These include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatillos, tobacco, and petunias. I have encountered these very creepy creatures before on my tomato plants in the summer but was totally shocked to find this 5 inch monster in my tomatillos this time of year.
They grow from a tiny egg that is the size of Lincoln’s chin on a penny so I am not surprised I missed that. But as adults they are hard to miss. They are very creepy looking in a bright green skin with small spots along the sides that make it look like it has many eyes and an actual horn on its backside!
The good news is that when I turn over my garden in the spring, it will kill about 90% of any larvae that have overwintered there so I have a fighting chance to keep them out next year.
For now, I am just thankful that I was wearing gardening gloves that day…
Reported by Patti