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The Tomato Hornworm Ray Gun

Yes Tomato lovers….it’s that time of year again as we head out to the garden to make sure all is well with the Tomatoes! “But Jack, we always head out to the garden and take care of our tomatoes, why is this trip any different?”, you ask. Well I’ll tell you….it’s because this is the time of the year that the evil Tomato Hornworm and Tobacco Hornworm appear. You can tell the two apart by observing their spikes (horns), the Tomato Hornworm has a “Green” curved spike on his tail end while the Tobacco Hornworm has a “Red” curved spike on his tail. There are there distinguishing features but these are the most prominent and the easiest to spot. We’ll leave that there for now.

Yes fellow Tomato Gardeners, these creatures conjure up stories that should be told by a Scout Leader in the dead of the night while his quivering troop are gathered around the campfire…..oh yea…and the Troop Leader has a flashlight beaming up his face…I always liked that part of the stories even though I wasn’t a Boy Scout, you see I got invited to a Boy Sc…..sorry….I’m getting carried away again. OK, I was telling you about Tomato Hornworms and their cousin the Tobacco Hornworm. These little basta….er….fellows can strip a tomato plant in a matter of days if not halted by the ever vigilant Tomato Gardener. The Tomato Hornworm has a nearly insatiable appetite…they grow to an astonishing length of 5 inches in some cases….and if you have a Tomato Hornworm 5″ long they’ll be easy to spot on your Tomato plant….because there won’t be any foliage to hide the basta…..fellow!

You can click on the photo for a close up view of the monster! Take note of the white stripes on the side of this behemoth, they will be the undoing of these ravaging denizens of the Gardening World. I know, you’re asking, “But Jack, how can seemingly innocuous white stripes be the undoing of these horrid creatures?” Well get ready as I reveal the Tomato Hornworm Ray Gun, now occupying a place of honor on my fireplace mantle!

Yes sports fans, we’re going hunting….we’re going hunting with the soon to be famous Toamto Hornworm Ray Gun….and here it is!!! Isn’t she a beauty?!
I think so. This baby has 21 rays on it and can shine a solid 3 or 4 feet. Now for the best part…. how can what appears to be a simple flashlight destroy the evil Hornworm? Here’s how it works, you see this isn’t just any flashlight….oh no, no. no….this is a “BLACK LIGHT” flashlight…..an ultraviolet flashlight….the ultimate weapon for Tomato Hornworm detection! Let me reveal the secrets of the super Ray Gun. First we wait for nightfall…remember sitting around the campfire with the Troop Leader?…..Then we head out to the garden and the tomato plants ….geeezzz ….I’m getting all excited again……then we turn on the ray gun and shine it all over the tomato plants! Well guess what? Remember those “White” stripes…the innocuous ones? Well, guess what….it’s those stripes that will stand out like a neon sign in the darkest of nights…..as a matter of fact those stripes will look like a neon sign!! How about that!!??
I went out in the garden last night in search of the evil Hornworm with my new powerful Ray Gun and I’m proud to say there was not one hornworm to be had anywhere! But this doesn’t mean they’re not out there….they show up from late June through mid August….and they don’t bugle their arrival either, quite the contrary, they hide during the day on the underside of leaves to escape the hot sun….and then they come out in the evening and further into the night to do their damage. If you live in a place that has relatively low noise levels you can also take a chair out to the tomato plants and sit and listen….they make a fairly audible clicking sound when they eat….just make sure the neighbors don’t see you on a chair hunched over your tomato plants listening or you may be listening up at the state hospital if you get my drift….R-R-R-R.
Anyway I’m sure you see what a great weapon the Tomato Hornworm Ray Gun is even though some folks would call it a simple Black Light Flashlight….in any event it’s going to stay up on my mantle with a place of honor right next to my mounted Chipmunk Head….that’s another story for another blog entry….Good Hunting!

Posted Saturday, July 7th, 2012 by by admin, under Tomato Care.

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