Big, fat, and green! Here are tips on how to identify, control, and get rid of tomato hornworms in your garden.
What Are Tomato Hornworms?
If you’ve ever grown garden tomatoes, chances are you have dealt with these green caterpillar pests. They can be found in most any region of the US and can ruin your tomato crop in record time; they also feed on eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. They can blend in quite easily with the green foliage and feed non-stop, creating spotty and chewed leaves and fruit.
Tomato hornworms live according to the following life cycle:
- In late spring, large adult moths lay eggs on the undersides of foliage, which will hatch within a week.
- Caterpillar larvae will feed from 4–6 weeks before creating a cocoon for overwintering in the soil. If the weather is warm enough, larvae may only burrow for as little as 2–3 weeks.
- Moths will emerge in the spring, and will then lay eggs once again. More than one generation a year may be possible in warmer climates.
Tomato hornworm moth (female). Look out for the moths in late spring. Photo by Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons.