Hornworms on Tomato


Tobacco and tomato hornworms are the big green worms with spiny tails that cause rapid defoliation of tomato plants. By the time hornworms are detected, they are nearly full-grown and getting ready to pupate. The damage is done and there is little point in applying insecticidal sprays to kill them.

This early in the season you might wonder if you can prevent the appearance of these worms. From my tomato growing experiences, the answer is no.

Moths deposit eggs on tomato foliage. Although fairly large and readily visible without magnification, eggs are seldom seen because their green egg color helps them blend in to the leafy background. Newly hatched 1.5 mm long larvae are equally difficult to observe. Only after grown larvae have consumed foliage do they attract attention.

Despite knowing a big worm is present, finding it requires patience. If you do find one, there are two options – pick and discard, or let live. Although picking and discarding may seem satisfying — one less moth means fewer future worms — eliminating one worm will not make a big difference. It may be better to adopt the idiom “live and let live” and accept coexistence with these overall harmless creatures.

Articles reprinted from the K-State Research & Extension Horticulture Newsletter

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One Response to “Hornworms on Tomato”

  1. Your Garden Says:

    Hornworms on Tomato…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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