The Q&A Archives: Dealing With Tomato Hornworms

Question: I have a problem with tomato hornworms. I have 2 yellow pear tomato plants and 1 cherry tomato plant that were doing wonderfully. They started to produce fruits and now I'm starting to fight with the tomato hornworms. The plants have been growing for about 4 months now and I haven't seen a single hornworm. Now, I've killed 5 in the last two days.

Is there a natural way that I can control the hornworm without using chemicals?

Answer: Tomato hornworms can be 4-5 inches long at maturity, and seeing them can be quite a shock! Hornworms are the larvae of a large moth (Manduca, with a wingspan of 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches). The adult is attracted to tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, dill, and various weeds. She lays her eggs on the host plant, the eggs hatch, and the larvae feed and feed. They have voracious appetities and can denude a tomato plant in a day! Handpicking is the best defense. You can use the botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison, and is quite effective against most caterpillars. To keep hornworms away from your tomato plants next year, try interplanting dill. (Hornworms like dill and are easier to see and remove on the wispy dill foliage.)

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