Tomato hornworm with braconid wasp larvae

comments (0) August 21st, 2009 in Gallery

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Imagine running into this guy before your morning cup of coffee... literally.
Macro shot! I got this close so you dont have to
My dill plant is popular with the beneficial crowd.
Imagine running into this guy before your morning cup of coffee... literally.Click To Enlarge

Imagine running into this guy before your morning cup of coffee... literally.

Photo: Kate Geruntho Frank

Early this morning I stumbled out to my garden with plans to take some photos while the light was good for photography. As I knelt on the ground I realized something bright white was hanging in my immediate peripheral vision and about to hit me in the face.

Ummm... yuck. I hate tomato hornworms with a passion (Arrrgh! It's the size of my pinky!) but at least this one was doing my garden some good by acting as a host for braconid wasp larvae. Braconid wasps are a beneficial insect that eat tomato hornworms. Female braconids lay their eggs under the skins of hornworms and as the larvae hatch, they eat the host hornworm from the inside out--which is perfectly fine with me!

A quick Google search verified that I should, in fact, leave this nasty thing in my garden so the beneficial wasps can fully hatch and continue to protect my tomatoes for the rest of the season (unless, of course, late blight gets them). So I snapped off the tomato branch and moved it to a far corner of my garden.

Some people buy and release braconid wasps into their gardens to hunt tomato hornworms, but I had read that planting herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, and fennel near tomatoes attracts the predator wasps, who feed on the plants' nectar. My fennel and dill are in full bloom right now, so it seems my companion planting worked.

More Reading:
The Definition of Companion Planting
Bring On the Beneficial Insects
Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden


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posted in: Gallery, tomatoes