What Do Tomato Hornworms Eat?

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Last Updated on March 23, 2022

What do tomato hornworms eat? Let’s get an answer to this question. The sphinx moth’s larva is commonly known as a hornworm. It is from the Lepidoptera family. The species of hornworm are about 1450.

Some varieties are sphinx moths, hawk moths, tobacco worms, white-lined sphinx worms, and more. So what do tomato hornworms eat? The species tomato hornworm is called that because it mostly loves to eat tomato plant leaves. As for the tobacco hornworm, it prefers tobacco plant leaves.

Both the tomato and tobacco plants are under the flowering plants family known as nightshades. Most of the nightshade leaves and fruits are really attractive to hornworms. Another thing is that you may sometimes find hornworms change in color according to the food they eat.

Let’s take a further look into what type of food do tomato hornworms eat.

Tomato Hornworms And What They Eat

Tomato hornworms are considered herbivores as they normally eat nightshade vegetables, tomato leaves, tobacco leaves, and even weeds such as horsenettle. They also feed on solanaceous plants. Hornworms eat a lot as they are very large in size.

You can say they are the truly ‘hungry caterpillar’. If they get enough food to eat, it is possible they become twice as big as they were before every day. Furthermore, some species of hornworms are bigger in size than others.

Tomato hornworms - What they eat

In fact, when it comes to length, they can grow up to 80mm. However, not all species prefer to eat alike. Some have a preference for some particular plants instead.

It is a thing of survival for hornworms to eat daily. Be it living in confinement or in the wild, they must eat every day. This is why when hornworms want to lay their eggs, they do so beneath their favorite plants.

Read more about Why Are My Cucumbers Round?

What Do Tomato Hornworm Eat?

Below is the list of the type of plants hornworms love:

Tomato leaves, Tomatoes (green), Eggplant, Bell pepper, Potato, Jimsonweed, Horsenettle, Silver nightshade, Tobacco leaves, Mulberry tree leaves

But let’s take a quick dive into a few of the popular foods that they most love to eat.

The Tomato Plants

To answer the question what do tomato hornworms eat? Soft tomato leaves are the kind of food they love. Although, while at it, a lot of damages can be inflicted on the tomato plant crops. Tomato plants are really enjoyed by tomato hornworms.

These hornworms are capable of feasting on a whole tomato leave in one night causing great damage. They can also feed on other parts of the tomato plant such as their flowers and fruits.

The Tomato Plants


Tomato hornworms can be fed varieties of vegetables that are especially in the nightshade family. These are vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, red bell peppers, tomatoes, collard greens, mashed celeries, and raw potatoes.

They can even be considered as a snack or emergency food for these worms.

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Tobacco – What Do Tomato Hornworms Eat?

It is possible for most hornworms species to eat tobacco leaves and not become toxic. The reason is that most of the toxins can be secreted. However, it is advisable not to feed the worms with this type of food if you have the purpose of feeding other animals with hornworms.

Hornworm Chow

A lot of breeders and pet owners, in situations whereby all the usual fresh foods for the hornworms are all finished, usually make sure there’s a reserve of hornworm chow. This is to always make sure there’s something for the hornworms to eat.

To make hornworm chow, you can do so with ingredients like wheat germ, linseed oil, agar, dandelion leaves, flake yeast, grapevine leaves, and more.

In addition to these ingredients, a lot of manufacturers would add more vitamins and minerals. They do this in order to foster the growth of the worms.

Hornworm Chow Artificial Diet Cooked (1lb)

Silkworm Chow Or Mulberry Leaves

The silkworm’s primary food source is the mulberry leaves, while the hornworm loves them. Soft mulberry leaves are great for hornworms but you can also feed them silkworm chow. The chow is made from mulberry leaves.

Grapevine Leaves – What Do Tomato Hornworms Eat?

It’s also not a bad idea for grapevine to be fed to your worms. Fresh green leaves are very good to feed your worms if there is no grapevine available or you don’t stay around a winery.

The grapevine is not usually found around that easily, hence, go for the fresh green leaves instead. It is a good option to give to your worms.

Dandelion Leaves

Don’t fret, you should know that dandelion leaves are a healthy herb that is being added to tea and other health foods. Hence, your worms will love to feed on dandelion leaves. This means your worms won’t become toxic. However, the only challenge here is that these leaves can poison your worms by treating these leaves with weed killers.

How Much Do Hornworms Eat?

Hornworms have the ability to devour or eat leaves, especially nightshade family food. If they have access to enough food and the temperature is warm like about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, it is possible they become twice as big as they were in a day.

In a normal circumstance, during the worm’s pupa stage, a hornworm can eat up to 1oz of hornworm chow. Hence, a pound of prepared food will be needed to raise 16 hornworms.

Conclusion On What Do Tomato Hornworms Eat?

Tomato hornworms are ferocious feeders that can feed on the plants they desire and even consume an entire leave in just one night.

Some of the plants tomato hornworms like to eat include raw potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. These tomato hornworms can also feed on some greens such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and so on.


What other plants do tomato hornworms eat?

So, apart from tomato plants that this hornworm tends to feed on, it can also feed on different nightshade family plants. Some of them include pepper, potato, eggplants, and so on.

Do tomato hornworms eat anything else?

Yes, tomato hornworm eats other things such as greens like spinach, broccoli, tobacco leaves, as well as weeds like horsenettle.

Do hornworms eat tomatoes or just leaves?

Hornworms are capable of feeding on the leaves of tomatoes as well as their flowers and fruit. These worms are ferocious eaters that are capable of devouring a whole leaf overnight.

How do you keep a tomato hornworm alive?

You can keep tomato hornworms alive by supplying constant light sources to keep them healthy and happy. Also feed them with what they like to eat such as sliced tomatoes, spinach, raw potato, lettuce, and so on.

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