Getting Rid of Tomato Hornworms in your garden, the voracious eaters of tomato plants!
Growing tomatoes makes sense. It’s a good decision for several reasons. It’s not too difficult to tend to the plants and get them to grow large enough to harvest and enjoy. Once you’ve got full-grown tomatoes in your garden, you can serve them in salads, use them to make homemade tomato soup, or even slice them down and add them to your favorite sandwiches for added flavor.
While it’s good to grow tomatoes in the garden, you may have recently encountered an issue going on in your garden. If you’ve started to notice significant damage to your tomatoes and are not sure how it’s happening, you’re probably dealing with the tomato hornworm. It’s essential to understand the damage this insect can cause to your vegetable garden, along with what you can do to put a stop to the damage.
What Is the Tomato Hornworm?
The tomato hornworm is a type of green caterpillar that is laid by the Hummingbird Moth; it gets its name because of its horned appearance and destructive reputation for causing damage to tomatoes. These pests naturally have an attraction to tomatoes, ultimately using them as hosts.
When they use tomatoes as a host, they’re causing excess damage to it, making it impossible for you to eat it because of its condition. It’s frustrating to spend your time planting and caring for tomatoes, only to come out to the garden to see the damage caused by one or more tomato hornworms.
These pests are quite annoying. It’s not always easy to spot them when they’re lingering in the garden because of their color. The tomato hornworm is green and can easily blend in with the leaves of other plants and trees, making it hard for you to discover them and remove them from your garden.
Although it’s difficult to spot these pesky pests, you can take specific steps to remove them from your garden and keep your tomatoes in the best possible condition.
Signs That Tomato Hornworms Live in Your Garden
If you’ve already planted tomatoes and want to make sure that tomato hornworms don’t destroy them, you’ll need to know what to look for when checking your plants. These are some of the following signs that you might have tomato hornworms lingering around and feeding on your produce:
- Dark spots on the tomato leaves. If you see dark spots on leaves attached to the top of your tomato plants, it’s likely an issue with the tomato hornworms. When they leave their larvae behind, it typically looks like dark-colored spots on the leaves.
- Damage leaves. Look for evidence that something is chewing on the leaves of your tomato plants. If you happen to see missing pieces of leaves or leaves that are missing entirely, you’ve likely got an issue with tomato hornworms.
- Green or Black Droppings. The larvae feeding on your plants will leave behind dark green or black dropping on the top of tomato leaves.
If possible, try to monitor your tomato plants at different parts of the day. You may end up catching a tomato hornworm in action, but it’s not always that easy. If you do spot the insect, you can carefully remove it and dispose of it to keep it away from your garden and the vegetables you’re currently trying to grow.
The Best Ways to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms
When dealing with tomato hornworms in your garden, you’ll have a few control methods to consider. While some people use insecticides, it’s not best to resort to that unless your problem doesn’t get solved with natural remedies.
There are more effective options that are safer for your plants. After all, you want to get rid of these pests, but you also want to keep your tomatoes and other plants in impeccable condition. You wouldn’t want to eat fresh tomatoes from your garden that you’ve covered in an insecticide because the ingredients in such products are often harmful and toxic.
One of the best ways to deal with horned worms is to literally hand pick them off your plants. It is time consuming but it s VERY effective. Plus, if you have backyard chickens, they’ll be happy to dispose of them for you!
Handpicking is an excellent tactic for controlling the spread of tomato worms. It can be time-consuming and laborious but it does work well. Simply carry out inspections of your plants every other day through the peak season (early spring) and remove the caterpillars. You might be worried that they will sting you but tomato worms do not have a sting.
Natural Pest Spray
You can create a natural spray to keep pests away, spreading it out around the garden while paying close attention to your tomato plants. You’d need to combine castile soap with water and cayenne pepper to create this natural pest spray. It’s safe to use, won’t cause harm to any of your plants, and will leave your tomatoes in the best condition.
The tomato hornworms don’t like the cayenne pepper, so it’ll keep them away from where you’ve planted your tomatoes when you use it. You can spray the solution down every few days to keep the tomato hornworms away for good.
Helpful Insects – Natural Enemies
Along with the natural pest spray, you may want to use beneficial insects (like the parasitic wasp) to help you with the pest control process. Several insects feast on tomato hornworm, preying upon them before eating them. Both braconid wasps and ladybugs are good insects to have near your tomato plants. They won’t damage the plants, but they’ll certainly make sure to eat those tomato hornworms. As a result, you’ll keep your plants safe while providing a great living environment to other insects.
While not everyone likes the thought of bringing other insects to the garden, it makes sense. It’s a natural food chain for these insects, and there isn’t anything wrong with it. It’s a much safer way to keep your tomatoes thriving without using harsh chemicals or toxic products that aren’t good for you, your family, or any pets that may run around near the garden from time to time.
Eliminate Tomato Hornworm and Keep Your Tomatoes Growing
Some people don’t grow tomatoes because they don’t have a good experience due to the tomato hornworm. These annoying pests often pop up out of nowhere, causing major destruction to the plants.
It’s not the kind of thing you want to experience when you’re taking the time and effort to plant seeds, water the tomatoes, and work hard to get them to grow. However, if you know what to look for, you can check for signs of tomato hornworms.
If you do see signs, you can use natural pest sprays and various insects to help control the situation faster than ever. It’s not too hard to get rid of these pests and keep your tomatoes fresh.