How to Identify and Control Tomato Hornworms

Biological, Chemical, Manual controls of Tomato Hornworm

The tomato hornworm is an extremely destructive pest of tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant and tobacco plants. They consume leaves and stems as well as chewing pieces from fruit itself. Tomato hornworms, although very large are often difficult to see because of their protective coloring.

Not much for the heat of direct sunlight, they tend to feed on the interior of the plant during the day and are more easily spotted when they move to the outside of the plant at dawn and dusk .Damage is most often noticed in midsummer and once it begins it shant go away till you make it go away – it will continue throughout the remainder of the growing season.

Tomato hornworms are 3-4 inches in length, green with seven diagonal white strips and a black or red horn projecting from the rear. The Adult Moths are large with a 4-5 inch wingspan.

Gray to brown in color with white zigzags on their rear wings and orange or brownish spots on the body. They are commonly known as a sphinx or hawk moth, and are sometimes mistaken for a small bird or even a bat at a quick glance as they fly rapidly and can hover like some small birds.

Beneficial insects such as lacewings, and ladybugs attack the eggs. Predatory wasps will lay eggs on the hornworm which become parasitic eventually killing the worm. For best results, release the beneficial insects early in the season.

Handpicking is actually the most cost effective way to get rid of tomato hornworms in light infestations, naturally you’ll miss some but persistence pays.

Some people say dump them in soapy water to kill – But why bother ? – if you’re a gardener you’re probably not a squeamish little pansy, just squash the little buggers underfoot, they’ll rot into the soil and add some organic matter !

If populations are high, Bacillus thuringiensis is the least offensive and very effective control. Also registered for use against Tomato hornworm is Dipel Dust – Dipel Dust kills worms with a natural bacteria, instead of with man-made poisons.

Its active ingredient (Bacilus Thuringiensis, car. Kurstaki) poisons and kills a variety of leaf-eating worms. B.T. is widely regarded as environmentally friendly, having no harmful effects on humans, wildlife, pollinators and most other beneficial insects.

Hand pick worms from plants; check plants in the evening with a flashlight.. Most Effective Control For Tomato Hornworms is Bacillius thuringiensis

Dill planted next to tomatoes will serve as a preferred trap crop; hand pick worms off the dill. Turning the soil in the fall will expose hornworm pupae to weather and predators.