By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Eww! What is THAT?
My friend Pat sent me a photo of something she’d never seen before on her tomato plants – a giant green worm about the size of your thumb covered with what look like bits of white rice sticking up all over it? SO, WHAT ON EARTH IS IT? Well, it’s a couple of things – the big green thing is a hornworm that can devour all the leaves on your tomatoes, peppers, and other plants in that same family very quickly.
But don’t reach for the pesticides, because the other stuff – those little white thingy’s – are actually cocoons of teensy parasitic wasps who make it their life’s work to kill the hornworms for you. These tiny wasps are harmless to humans and so small they’re sort of hard to see, but their babies literally suck the life out of the hornworm.
So, if you spot a hornworm covered with white cocoons in your garden count yourself lucky and LEAVE IT THERE! Loads of little good guys will soon hatch and protect your plants by going on to search and destroy other hungry hornworms without you having to lift a finger.
Learn more: NJAES.Rutgers.edu.