It's a Bug-Eat-Bug World: Controlling Tomato Hornworms with Braconidae Wasps

| 10/6/2016 12:00:00 AM

Tags: beneficial insects, tomato hornworms, wasps, pest control, Kurt Jacobson, Maryland,

The Green Invader is coming. During the first two years of growing my red delicious orbs I would declare war when the first hornworm of the season showed its extended green self in one of my prized heirloom tomato plants.

I would gladly give it a swim in a special glass jar with a water and soap mixture for offending bugs. I called this my Swimming Pool of Death. Dozens of Japanese beetles and a few hornworms went for a dip in this noxious fluid never to decorate and defile a tomato plant again.


Hornworm with wasp eggs

Tomato Hornworms and Their Natural Enemy

One day when I was researching the University of Maryland’s Grow-It-Eat-It website’s insect section, I learned many things about bugs. Hornworms eat more than tomato plants. They also will eat other plants from the solanaceae family like eggplant, peppers, moonflower, tobacco, and potato plants.

I came across a photo of a hornworm with a pearly-white adornment on its back. I had seen a couple of these types of hornworms and plunged them in the pool of death despite their wearing attractive pearly jewelry. What a mistake I had been making. Those pearly white bits of hornworm jewelry were Braconidae Wasp eggs.

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