GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
 
Visit our Sponsors!
Visit our Sponsors and win.

Tomato Good Guys

Anne K Moore
Photograph Anne K Moore


The tomato crop in my garden was less than satisfying this year. In fact, it was the worst disaster I have had in my (cough-cough) years of gardening.

One good thing has come from a failure to thrive this year. A braconid wasp (Cotesia congregatus) found a hornworm on one of my container tomatoes and laid her eggs in it. Soon, a whole new generation of wasps will be born to terrorize the hornworm population.

If you notice these white pupae (actually probably cocoons when you become aware of them) hitching a ride on a hornworm in your garden, give thanks and don’t destroy the good gals/guys with the pest. Let this hornworm live to nurture its parasites. It will soon die when they mature.

The female braconid wasp deposits her eggs just under the skin of the hornworm. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the insides of the hornworm until they are ready to pupate. The hornworm stops eating, saving your precious tomato plants. Then the larvae break through the skin and spin cocoons on the hornworm’s back, which look like clusters of white eggs. The braconid wasps emerge from their cocoons as adults only an eighth of an inch long. The hornworm is finished and with the birth of fresh generations of braconid wasps, new hornworms will become “infected.”

The more braconid wasps you have in your garden, the fewer problems you will have with hornworms. They are a perfect beneficial to incorporate into your garden, since contaminated hornworms stop eating. So, when you see white cases attached to a hornworm, let the bad caterpillar live so that the good wasps can thrive.

Just so you know, adult braconid wasps are not only good guys in the garden, you do not have to be afraid of them. Braconid wasps do not sting humans unless the humans abuse them. Don’t try to corner them or hold them prisoner in your hand. If you do, they might defend themselves.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

Article URL:
http://www.GardenSMART.com/?p=articles&title=Tomato_Good_Guys


Back to Articles List                               

 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article
DWARF CONIFERS ADD BIG IMPACT TO THE GARDEN

By Kate Karam for Monrovia
Photograph courtesy of Monrovia

As landscapes are getting smaller and gardeners have less time to care for them, these naturally smaller plants are taking a larger role. They look great year round, come in all kinds of shapes, forms, and colors, many are water-wise once established, and most thrive in extreme climates. However, the real reason we love them is the way they provide strong structure and play well with floriferous bounty during the growing season, becoming stars in their own right during the winter. If you live in zones 4 - 8 you have the largest range of choices, but there's something amazing for just about every zone! Read more...


Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!

GardenSMART Article Image
 
   
   
   
 
   
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.