Last Updated on October 28, 2022
The tomato hornworm killer is a common pest that attacks your healthy tomato plants, destroying them with their horn-like protrusion in their rear.
The common tomato hornworm is one of the most destructive pests throughout North America. It destroys tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant, and tobacco plants.
These worms consume the entire leaves, small stems, and fruits. Even though they are large, these worms are difficult to spot during the day because of their protective coloring.
Gardeners will mostly only find the large areas eaten but not see this pest. Damage from this worm is commonly noticed in midsummer all through the remainder of the growing season.
Identifying Tomato Hornworm Killer
Hornworms are about 5 inches long shocking most gardeners spotting them for the first time. They are most destructive during their caterpillar-larvae stage.
These worms are pale green in color with white and black markings, with a horn-like protrusion coming up from their rear. They also have eight V-shaped stripes decorating their green body.
The larvae blend in totally with the plant greenery, making them hard to spot. If you cannot yet spot them, look for the following signs.
- Look for chewed or missing leaves from your plant. Hornworms start feeding on the top of the plant.
- Keenly look at the top of your tomato leaves for black droppings left by the larvae feeding on your leaves. Once you find them, look at the underside of the leaves, and you will most likely find the hornworm.
- Look for missing leaves on stems and wilted leaves hanging down; you can also find white cocoons.
Read more about When Is Cilantro Ready To Harvest?
Tomato Hornworm Killer Life cycle
Tomato hornworms have the following life cycle:
- In late spring, the large adult lay eggs on the lower side of foliage that hatches within a week. You will easily recognize these adults during this season more than others.
- Caterpillar larvae hatch in late spring and feed for 4–6 weeks before creating a cocoon. They overwinter in their pupal state in the soil, but if the weather is warm enough, the larvae may only burrow for only 2 to 3 weeks.
- These worms will start emerging in the spring and begin laying eggs once again as adults.
The Difference Between Tomato & Tobacco Hornworm
There are two hornworms that attack tomatoes; they include
- Tomato hornworm, (Manduca quinquemaculata)
- The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta)
These two worms look almost similar. They are huge and cause the same kind of destruction to plants in the nightshade family. The only way to tell apart with a first sight is by their horn.
Where Do Tomato Hornworms Go During The Day?
Hornworms are not visible during the day, but they hide among your plant’s foliage. They are green in color, which is the color of the foliage, making them blend in well. If you can’t find them, try looking for droppings and follow that trail.
You can also find them during the night with much ease because they light up during the night. Young ones will enjoy the adventure of catching these worms that glow in the dark.
Homemade Tomato Hornworm Killer
Getting rid of these tomato hornworm killers is easy if you follow these homemade remedies.
- Soapy Water Spray. Mix up a solution of soapy water spray, adding a bit of cayenne pepper to make it hot, causing those caterpillars to die.
- Garlic and Hot Pepper. Garlic has a strong smell and pepper a spicy taste. Both make a strong natural deterrent to horned tomato worms. Blend 3 full garlic bulbs, together with 6 large fresh hot chili peppers. You can substitute fresh peppers with 2 tablespoons of chili powder. Add in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and at least 2 to 3 squirts of liquid detergent plus 7 cups of water. Once blended, sieve or strain the mixture and pour it into a spray bottle. Allow the mixture to sit for a couple of days to produce a more pungent smell.
- Fish Fertilizer. Fish fertilizer works in two ways – nourishes the plants and repels pests like the tomato hornworm. You can make your own fish fertilizer spray by blending fish bones and fish scales with water to create a soupy liquid that smells extensively of fish. Strain this mixture and transfer the liquid you obtain to a spray bottle.
What Kills Hornworms On Tomato Plants?
Here are two solutions that kill these pests on tomato plants.
- bT Spray for Hornworms. As soon as you notice the presence of the hornworms, spray them with this solution. bT is a good bet for killing these destructive worms. Spray the leaves and soil to help kill the hornworms. BT is a bacteria that easily infects and kills caterpillars and is approved for organic gardening. You can also use it for cabbages when they get cabbage worms. Bt spray handles caterpillar issues quickly and is nontoxic to mammals and bees. However, Bt kills all caterpillars, which is a downside of this solution.
- Use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. Use the food-grade version to kill the hornworms. Food grade diatomaceous earth is helpful to many pests and nontoxic to work within dry conditions. To use it, sprinkle the DE around the plant; when the hornworms walk through it, it enters their body and dries them up progressively.
How Do You Keep Tomato Hornworms Away?
Keeping these pests away in the future is as easy as attracting beneficial insects to your garden. These beneficial insects include
- Parasitic wasps
- Green lace wigs
Plant a bed of flowers or herbs that attracts beneficial insects to your garden.
What do you spray on tomato hornworms?
You might be tempted to reach for the nearest insecticide, but according to entomologists, you’d be wasting your time. The most effective way to get rid of tomato hornworms is to remove them from the plants, rather than killing them off. Here’s how to do it. Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) eggs When we think about insect pests, we tend to think about the big ones:
Hornworms are one of the most common tomato pests in the U.S. They eat leaves, flowers, and fruit of many plants and vegetables, but their damage to tomato plants is particularly bad. In fact, some gardeners have reported seeing entire tomato plants go down from a single attack by these pests.
Where do they come from?
Hornworms are native to North America, where they can be found in the southern U.S. and northern Mexico. Hornworms lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs look like white dots, and they hatch into tiny caterpillars, which usually feed on just one leaf before moving to a new one.
How do you get rid of tomato hornworms?
There are two main ways to get rid of tomato hornworm larvae:
by removing the insects from the plants or by spraying insecticides on the plants. Removing the bugs From the outset, it’s important to note that removing hornworms from the plants is an effective way to control them, not an easy one. In fact, removing hornworms is the most difficult method of controlling tomato hornworms, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be dealing with this problem for weeks or even months after the first hornworm appears. If you want to get rid of hornworms right away, then it’s probably best to spray them. But if you want to get rid of them quickly and effectively, you’ll need to remove them from the plants. To do this, simply lift up the bottom edge of the plant and gently shake it back and forth. The caterpillars will fall off the plant, and you can leave them in a bucket of soapy water for a few hours to drown. You’ll also have to pick up any other caterpillars that are still on the plant, but this is a relatively easy job.
How do I keep hornworms off my tomato plants?
The best way to keep hornworms off your tomato plants is by applying the insecticide spinosad in a controlled manner. This will not only keep the hornworms off your tomatoes, but it will also prevent any further damage to your crop from these pesky little pests. The best time to apply this insecticide is during the late afternoon or early evening before your tomato plants go to bed for the night.
What causes tomato hornworms?
The answer to this question is actually very simple. They are the larvae of a small moth, called a tortrix, which lays its eggs on the leaves of your tomatoes and then feeds on them. If you notice small black spots on your tomato leaves, it’s likely that you have hornworms, and if you look carefully, you’ll find that they are feeding on the leaves.
Keep in mind that tomato hornworm killer also destroys other garden vegetables. Always monitor your peppers, potatoes, and eggplants to ensure they are not destroyed by this pest.
The sooner that you catch these worms and get rid of them, the higher the chance of your plants thriving.
We have discussed plenty of ways to eliminate these pests and prevent them. The homemade ones are easy to make and affordable for every gardener to implement. The nontoxicity factor wins hands down every day!
Lory is an avid gardener who loves spending time outdoors. She is passionate about using her green thumb to create beautiful, lush gardens for her friends and family. She finds joy in tending to her garden, trimming plants, and cultivating new species. She loves to share her knowledge and experience with others who have a similar enthusiasm for gardening. Lory is a true nature enthusiast who loves to share her enthusiasm for the outdoors with all who meet her.