Bad news! Hornworms can devour the precious foliage of an entire tomato plant in a day.
Good news! Parasitoid wasps, as natural predators, stop the devastation of tomato plants in our gardens.
In this photo, credited to Lyle J. Buss, UF/IFAS, cocoons protrude from the body of a tomato hornworm that will die because of a beneficial parasitoid wasp. Read how we naturally save our tomato plants from this pest. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1187
Curious about more beneficial insects and the good they do? Here’s a fact sheet about lady beetles, assassin bugs, green lacewings, syrphid flies, dragon flies, praying mantis and more. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/natural-enemies-predators-and-parasitoids/
Florida native plants support beneficial insect populations. That’s why VISTA has native plant gardens north, south, east and west of our vegetable gardens.
Here’s an example. Florida’s state flower, Coreopsis, attracts hoverflies, lacewings, lady beetles, syrphid flies and parasitic wasps, so we grow Coreopsis leavenworthi and Coreopsis lanceolata, two of thirteen species of Coreopsis native to Florida. https://www.flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-coreopsis-lanceolata/
Look north! VISTA’s Wildflower Garden has 50 varieties of Florida native plants, including Coreopsis lanceolata.
Look south and southeast! VISTA’s Flower Garden and many native plants near the pond include Coreopsis leavenworthi that self-seeds each year.
Look East! VISTA’s Monarch Waystation Garden includes Coreopsis leavenworthi among dozens of native plant varieties.
Look West! Find more Coreopsis leavenworthi in the Native Plant Landscape surrounding the pavilion.
Resist spraying insecticides, so that the hoverflies, lacewings, lady beetles, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps live to support your vegetables!