Posted in Chickens, MyGarden, Pest control, tagged Bt, caterpillars in garden, Chickens, garden pests, hummingbird moth, tobacco hornworm, tomato hornworm on July 18, 2010 |
11 Comments »
Well-camouflaged tobacco hornworm can be a garden menace!
Time to talk about the nasties. This bugger is a vicious defoliator, mostly attacking plants in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family – tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and of course, tobacco. The specimen above was first assumed to be the tomato hornworm, but a master gardener from Colorado State clarified the difference between the two caterpillars. They’re the larval stage of the “hawk”, “sphinx” or hummingbird moth – begrudgingly beautiful – but can wipe out your tomato plantation in no time.
These critters added to our tomato heirloom woes (notably “blossom drop” from the very high temps) just yesterday when Roy discovered them feasting on the leaves. In the evening, he applied Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis – an effective natural pesticide against caterpillars. In less than 48 hrs, we put on our “pattern identification lenses”, and picked about 20 of these nasty buggers. Picking them off the leaves is like pulling velcro apart, and they seem to fight back by bending backwards and grabbing you with their vicious little jaws. (Actually I don’t think they bite and people will handle them with bare hands … but these critters still gross me out!)
The Bt was effective almost overnight, but we still found a half dozen or so lively, fat beasties today.
Bt already took effect in less than 24 hrs. for some caterpillars
The happy ending to this story is that we get a whole lot of entertainment feeding these caterpillars to our chickens. The chooks will come to you eagerly, snatch the beasty from your hand, and fight over the gourmet meal. They were pretty subdued in the video, but you do see the Buff Orpi do an Olympic sprint well away from the competition!
A more informative video on tomato and tobacco hornworms to watch is from GardenForkTV.
Read Full Post »
Meet "Jeanette", a UFO, garden fertilizer & breakfast provider
It is Day 4 and our twelve chicks (all about 3 wks old) are still kicking – literally. I am slowly becoming more efficient in the cleaning and care, esp. making sure that their water is changed several times a day. Every day of survival is another day of health and another egg factory in the making Cleaning their boxes isn’t too big of a chore, and the newspapers go straight in the compost bin!
We all look in on the chicks several times a day, letting them get used to being handled. The 12 are currently split up in 2 groups of 6.
Big Bertha & Psychos
In one box are the “blondies” (Buff Orpingtons), and these gals (presumably all gals, but unlikely) seem to be the most sedate and poo-lific. The second box has a mix of Black Sx-links, Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons. Unfortunately, this seems to be the psycho group, segregating according to color (what’s up with that?), taunting each other, and seeing who can screech the loudest. The largest are the Black Sx-links, one of which I have called “Big Bertha” of turkey-esque size. Every time you handle her, you’d think she was Marie Antoinette at the guillotine.
We are currently studying various chicken coop plans, including those we found in this book, Chicken Coops, by Judy Pangman. Many people criticized it for lacking real building plans, and perhaps the title is misleading because there are no detailed plans for any of the coops – just pictorial representations and occasionally, dimensions. For us, however, these “concept” plans should be sufficient.
I’m especially excited over the opportunity to use a lot of scrap building materials and “junk” that we’ve accumulated over the years. Rather than haul these to the dump, constructing and interior decorating a chicken house brings me back to my childhood when I’d build houses for my dolls
We’d love to see a link to your own chicken coop or ones you’ve seen that you really like!
Tweet tweet for now,
Read Full Post »