Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Tomato Hornworm, Wood Fungus, Berry Toxicity, and Fall Webworm


Tomato hornworm. Photo: Molly Poe, DeRidder.

Tomato Hornworm

Molly, a gardener, sent an email, “I sprayed [fungicide] this morning [and] got side tracked by these tomato hornworms. [I] found 4!

Treatments for tomato hornworm include both organic and conventional insecticides.

  • Organic:
    • Spinosad
    • Dipel™
    • Thuricide™
  • Conventional:
    • Bifenthrin
    • Cyfluthrin
    • Permethrin
    • Sevin™

As always, read the label for safe, effective results of any pesticide product.


Red arrows indicate the fungal growth on firewood.

Wood Fungus

Fred saw some fungal growth on a firewood pile and was concerned that the fungus could spread to live trees.

AHA consulted with Mr. David Lewis from the Gulf States Mycological Society for information about this fungus. Lewis shared his thoughts, “The black crust is probably a species in the genus Hypoxylon. Some species are pathogenic, so I would recommend that the homeowner burn the logs which have it as they can send out spores to the nearby tree.”


American beautyberry. Photo: Dr. Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter.

Berry Toxicity

Stormie sent an email regarding conflicting information, “Can you please tell me if the American beautyberries (Abs) are poisonous or not. Everything on the internet say they are not, and you can make jelly from the berries. My landowner said they [are toxic]. In Alabama they all think they are. But a coworker made jelly and it is good and he said they are not [poisonous]. Please help.”

AHA research the question of beautyberry toxicity. The websites for both the North Carolina and Florida extension service report that AB is edible, but not very tasty in the raw form. However, AB can made into a jelly with a taste like mayhaw jelly.


Fall webworm. Photo: Walton Baggett., DeRidder, LA.

Fall Webworm

Walton sent an image of a seasonal caterpillar and wanted its name.

This caterpillar is a fall webworm (FW) and can infest many hardwood trees. Mariah Simoneaux, a horticulture agent in Ascension Parish, wrote these recommendations for treatment of FW, “Webworms can be controlled by simply cutting and removing the end of the branch that contains the web. Periodic inspection of trees should be done so that webs can be removed before they get too large. Chemical controls are also available, insecticides containing active ingredients such as B. t. (Bacillus thuringiensis), Spinosad and Carbaryl™ work well. When applying an insecticide be sure to penetrate the web so that the chemical can contact the pest. Always completely read the product label when using any type of insecticide treatment.”

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.

9/14/2021 8:57:53 PM
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