green hornworms - Knowledgebase Question

Albuquerque, Ne
Question by stamps12
June 25, 2007
This is my first time having a veggie I have recently seen four green hormworms that are eating my pepper leaves and leaving frass around the plant. What should I do? Are my plants effected that I need to pull them out of the garden? How do I get rid of this worms? What is frass? Should I pick the frass out of my garden? How did these worms get in, my garden is a box garden that is on concrete. Is my garden ruined?

Answer from NGA
June 25, 2007


Hornworms are the larvae of the Sphinx moth so the adults fly into the garden and lay eggs. The eggs hatch into caterpillars and they feed on the leaves of tomato, pepper and other plants. You can pick off the caterpillars and destroy them or you can use the botanical Bt (bacillus thuringensis, sold as Dipel). It's a stomach poison so the caterpillars need to consume it which means it won't kill on contact.

Frass is simply bug poop. It is the digested remains of the leaves the caterpillars have consumed. I guess you could consider it a form of natural fertilizer and it does not need to be removed from the garden.

Don't pull your plants out, but do get rid of the hornworms before they completely destroy your plants.

Best wishes with your new veggie garden!

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