Tomato Hornworms

How to Identify and Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms



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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.


Photo Credit: on Flickr Creative Commons. Look out for the tomato hornworm moths in late spring.


How to Identify Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms can be up to 5 inches long—which can be quite a shock when you first come across one! They do the most damage in the caterpillar, or larvae, stage. They are pale green with white and black markings, plus a horn-like protrusion stemming from their rear. (Don’t worry, they aren’t able to sting!) The caterpillar also has eight V-shaped stripes on its green body. Tomato hornworms come from a mottled brown moth. 

    The larvae blend in really well with the plant greenery. Just get used to a daily patrol, looking for hornworm eggs and small caterpillars. Here are some cues of infestations:

    • Look closely at the TOP of your tomato leaves for dark green droppings left by the larvae feeding on the leaves. Then look at the underside of leaves and you’ll find a hornworm.
    • Look for stems missing some leaves and wilted leaves hanging down. You may find white cocoons and their hornworm hosts nearby.


    Tomato Hornworm Damage

    If you see leaves with large holes and severe defoliation, devoured flowers, and/or scarring on fruit surfaces, you have tomato hornworms. The fruit also might be damaged by sunscald because of the reduced foliage.

    Control and Prevention

    How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms

    • Handpicking is an excellent tactic for control if you have the time and patience, or a small garden. The caterpillars are not dangerous and cannot sting. If you are squeamish about crushing these large insects, drop them into soapy water instead.
    • If the hornworm population or the area of your garden is too large, insecticides can be a useful control. You can use the botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison (but doesn’t harm other plants or animals). Please check with your local Cooperative Extension for a list of approved insecticides in your area.


    Prevent Tomato Hornworms

    • Till soil at the beginning and end of each gardening season to destroy overwintering larvae. Tillage has shown to cause up to 90% mortality.
    • Keep wasps around; they’re beneficial insects which feed on hornworms and act as a biological control. You may see hormworms with wasp larvae attached, which look like grains of rice (see picture, above). These attacked hornworms will continue to feed for a little while, but will soon succumb to their hitchhikers, so it’s wise to leave them alone and let the wasps carry out their life cycle. Alternatively, remove infected hornworms and place them far away from your garden. This way, the wasps will still do their job, but the hornworm won’t continue to damage your crops.
    • To keep hornworms away from your tomato plants next year, try interplanting dill or basil; marigolds are also an excellent companion plant and keep many pests away.

    See the Almanac Garden Plant Pest and Disease Control Library for information on all your common pest problems.

    Reader Comments

    Leave a Comment

    Horned worms

    These pests devoured my trumpet plant! I picked off at least 15 of them, thinking at first it was deer that devoured my plant. Upon looking further it was these same worms that affect tomato plants! We drowned them then fed them to the wild turkeys. Totally taken aback that they ate my plant! I hate them!

    Hornworm eggs

    I had those nasty creatures & ended up pulling off what tomatoes I could that were still geeen & hope they ripen in the house or the windowsill. Those nasty eggs(larvae) left my nice new deck with green spots! How do I get rid of the stain without harming my deck? It hasn't been stained yet. Those creatures are gross!

    Tobacco vs. Tomato

    The pictured worms are actually Tobacco Hornworms. The tobacco hornworm caterpillar has black margins on its white stripes and it has a red horn, the tomato hornworm has green margins on its white stripes and the horn is blue. Just as hungry though!


    Is it okay to spray a dawn and water solution then spri lie with cayenne powder on purple Cherokee tomato plants to treat for hornworms?


    I noticed my tomato plant leaves curling, a week or so ago and attributed it to the Texas heat. It had been many years since I'd had a tomato garden, so I had forgotten all about that 'sign'. I'm hoping the pesky worms have all been located. My question is, will the leaves of my plants uncurl and look full and lush again?

    Hornworm Damage

    Leaves that have been directly chewed or affected won’t recover, but any new growth should be fine as long as the insects didn’t infect that plant with a disease. Keep an eye on the plant to see how it develops.

    Horn tomato worms

    They are not just tomato eaters. I just found 3 large juicy ones on my small petunia like plants. WOW, didn't expect that. I pulled the plant out since it was just a twig now and placed the plant with worms attached in a plastic ziplock Baggie. Off to the dump they go!

    My method for diposal

    Since I use no chemicals in my garden and hand pick off all pests found I feed them to wild birds. I have a platform made from scrap wood in the middle of my garden space where I toss the pests. This, in turn, attracts more insect-eating birds to the garden I have seen them scratching and feeding on something just below the surface of soil on several occasions. If have chickens or ducks just add pests to their feed. When I had chickens I would let them into garden in spring before planting and in fall after crops pulled and let them feast.

    Tomato Hornworms

    My grandmother used to go out in the evenings or early mornings with a pair of scissors and just snip in half every hornworm she found - never had to touch them.

    1st time I've seen these

    I noticed a lot of black dropping on the ground around my cherry tomato plants about 1 month ago they looked like coffee grounds because we had some gusty winds the night before I thought that they had blown off the roof and as I was sweeping them away I notice a large green caterpillar I googled it and discovered it was a tobacco hornworm so I went over all my plants and removed over 20 all varies sizes then I got my husband to check over them behind me and discovered a few more that I missed. The next morning there were more droppings and I removed another 10 and for the next 3 mornings after more droppings but only 3 this time then 1. Then nothing I thought I was in the clear then just last week I found a huge amount of dropping around by Better boys and discovered the biggest fattest hornworm yet. This is the 1st year I've seen them do you think I will get them every year now? I forgot to mention that all my Tomatoes are in containers on my deck with fresh soil every year.

    Tomato Hornworm

    Hi Lesley,

    The tomato hornworm pupates into a sphinx moth, also known as a hawk moth. They lay eggs on tomato plants that will turn into the hornworms. Since you change your soil every year, it is unlikely that they will be a consistent problem year to year: No pupas will overwinter in your soil. The moths are just finding your plants. Keep in mind, right now is prime moth season. As summer moves on into August, you will see less sign of caterpillars and moths.

    Cutworms or hornworms on tomato plants

    Years ago, cutworms would devour my tomato plants just before I could harvest tomatoes until my mother-in-law passed along some tried and true Wisdom to me. When you plant your tomato plants take a "WHITE" Styrofoam cup size Large, cut the bottom out of it, place it in the hole and put your tomato sprout in it, be sure to leave the cup up out of the ground most of the way (use just enough dirt to hold it around the plant). As your tomato plant grows make sure that you prune any stems that can touch the soil which are usually the first stems so the worms cannot crawl up the stems that they can reach from the ground outside the cup. The white cup acts like a barrier to keep the cutworms off the plant, this is the same reason that crickets are kept in white Styrofoam bait boxes, cutworms & hornworms like crickets will not pass over WHITE - True story, I never have had a problem since nor has anyone I have shared this knowledge with - Blessings from Mary Joe Green Taylor !

    Thank you for the info

    I just put a UV blacklight flashlight on my list for purchase. Really appreciate that info. I'm not sure I want to see all the other stuff it can reveal though!

    Also the info about leaving the ones that have the wasp larvae on them is interesting. Did this article really tell us they dont cause any more damage to the plant once they are studded with these little white things?

    I take great pleasure in chopping these things right in half, right on the stem they are on with my Fiskar pruning shears when I find killing an alien life form when their green slime is spilled. I am so mad at them for robbing me of the produce my plants would have provided, I wish I could do worse to them.

    Also, when they are killed and left behind, especially the parts that fall off the plant to the ground (some parts stay clung on and shrivel right there), the rest of nature loves to eat them. I saw little yellow bees just gobbling the carcasses up and of course the ants and all love them.

    Hornworms with Wasp Eggs

    Your assertion is correct: infected hornworms will continue to feed until they are killed by the parasitic wasp larvae. If you want to ensure that there will be no further damage, you can remove the infected hornworm and place it far away from your garden. This way, the caterpillar won’t damage your crops, but the wasps will still be able to emerge and attack more hornworms.

    Below comment

    Worm / Caterpillar on Morning Glory plant and we have several other butterfly plants there but also used to have some tomatoes.

    VERY large green Caterpillar / worm on Morning glory

    Can I leave a picture to know if this is a GIANT Swallow tail OR a Tomato Horn worm

    Green worms on tomatoes

    Are Horn Worms the only GREEN worms to be found on tomatoes. I found 3 smallish green inch worms on my plants this morning, no horns I could see but many holes in leaves and one good size stem almost completely severed in half. Maybe they are baby Horn Worms?

    Green Worms on Tomatoes

    Hi Donna,

    It sounds like you have cabbage loopers on your tomato plants. They eat a variety of different foliage, and are 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Horn Worms are already babies, being the larval stage of the Sphinx Moth. Horn Worms are about 3 inches long. We hope this helps!

    Green Worms Imbedded In The Fruit Itself

    What remedy do you suggest for those smaller green worms found imbedded in the tomato fruit itself? Finding limp, mushy green tomatoes with worms busily devouring the fruit though no sightings on the limbs or leaves. Oddly, it's random-- surrounding tomatoes seem both uninhabited and healthy. So far, no sightings of the larger horn worm.

    Tomato Fruitworms

    The pest you’re describing sounds like the tomato fruitworm, which is known to bore into tomatoes and cause them to rot. Once they get inside the tomato, there’s not much you can do, so stop them beforehand by routinely checking for eggs on leaves and spraying with a natural insecticide, like Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).


    I just found the big est green horn worm or should I say the biggest Catapillar I've ever seen in my life

    Horn worms

    Very jnformative, thank you.

    hornworms on my collards and kale

    I've had whole collard plants eaten and kale that was chewed this year and could not find anything eating them, just some black "poop balls" left behind. Today I notice a tomato plant completely bare of its leaves and found this huge hornworm covered in the wasp larvae. My question is, Is it safe to eat greens that have been chewed by these creatures?

    safe greens

    It should be OK; we haven’t heard about any cautions regarding hornworms affecting edibility of crops in that respect. After harvesting, cut out any damaged areas and throw out any rotten leaves. Then wash the greens thoroughly just before eating, using cool running tap water. You can blot the leaves dry with a paper towel or use a salad spinner. Be sure that your hands and any utensils/tools and food preparation surfaces are clean. (It is recommended that hands are washed for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before handling food.)

    worms on tomato plant

    i have what i thought was the cabbagelooper doing damage to my plants but now i'm not so sure. i've been collecting the cocoons at various stages and have come across many that look like a worm encasing hundreds of eggs. could this be a way of reproduction for them that i'm unaware of?
    please advise


    Are these cocoons on a caterpillar? See the photo of the tomato hornworm with the braconid wasp cocoons above - these are one insect per cocoon. Braconid wasps are parasites of the hornworm. If you see these on a worm, leave them be. The hatching wasp larvae will take care of the hornworm pest.

    The eggs of a cabbage looper are laid with no protective covering on leaves, singly or in small clusters, and are whitish yellow to green. Each pupa is encased in a thin white cocoon under foliage; the pupa itself is green, then turns brown to black, before transforming to a moth. A few insects make egg cases, such as praying mantids and spiders (egg sacs), which contain many eggs. A common tomato pest that might do this, though, does not come to mind at the moment.

    Fruit Trees - plums ,Figs , Tangerines , n more

    Don't like worms to see in my garden . Thanks for all the Infos.


    I have this worm eating my tomato plants,but it is black with gold v-stripes. What should I do with it

    tomato plant pests

    This sounds more like an armyworm. Besides handpicking, you could try applying the natural bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for control. Talk to your local garden store.

    Tomato Hornworms

    We're under attack!!! Never one to be afraid or grossed out by bugs, but these are no bugs! They're creatures! We never had them before & planted our tomatos & peppers in containers with new soil. We're checking daily & removing them regularly. Also spraying with soapy water. Lots of great info on your site & now that we know about the wasp eggs & the villain moth, we'll be on the hunt. Thanks!

    Saw one hornworm

    I found and removed one large hornworm from my tomato plants today. This is the first time I have ever seen one. Can they be found in isolation, or do I probably have more?

    Tomato Hornworms

    If you find one tomato hornworm, look for others.  Their mothers deposited a bunch of eggs from which they hatch. Plants should be examined at least twice per week during the summer to check for tomato hornworms. They’re easy to find because they’re big!


    While pulling outthe last of the tomato plants I found 2 hornworms, one about and inch long and the other about two inches long. The smaller was covered with the wasp eggs but the larger was not. I have a 5 year old nephew, I gave him the worms and he put them in the little screen cage that he has. The next morning the larger worm also has these eggs. Does this mean that the worm was 'attacked' by the wasp at an earlier time. how is this process done, does the wasp 'bite' once or does one 'bite' produce all of these eggs?

    hornworms as pets

    Hi, Mary Anne, Yes, it is possible that the worm was attacked by the tiny wasps before it went into the cage. The “eggs” are actually cocoons; the eggs were laid under the “skin” of the hornworm and these are the result. As for how it’s done…a special type of braconid wasp inserts its eggs into the caterpillar (hornworm). The eggs hatch into wasp larvae that feed on tissue in the caterpillar. This eventually changes the color of the hornworm but—fear not—it is still alive. The wasp larvae eventually chew through the hornworm’s skin to pupate…and each white “egg” attached to the caterpillar/hornworm is the cocoon of another special braconid wasp. Before long, the new wasps will break free and be ready to mate and attack next year’s hornworms.

    There is a lesson—or one heck of a bedtime story—here for you and your nephew. Good for you for going after the detail! And thanks for asking us. (We learned something too.)


    You need to add jalapeño to the food list

    Tomato hornworms

    I only planted two tomato bushes and two green pepper bushes this year. This morning I came across these buggers. I thought my bushes were looking a little wilted after I picked a big bowl of tomatoes last week. I picked off 7 and am so creeped out about these bugs that I may just cut down the bushes!! I have never had these bugs in the 25 years I have been planting. They are not on my green peppers but there is a lot of dropping on the leaves so may pull them out too!

    Tobacco Horned Worm

    This was a great article. :) You do need one correction though. You say these worms do no sting. You have never got tapped with that horn on the back then. lol They do sting and it feels like fire when you get hit. Adults need to be very aware when removing them not to get stung and children do not need to handle them because they can get hurt.

    ... it does not have the capability to sting or pierce the skin

    If you have ever suspected that you have been bitten by a tomato or tobacco hornworm, chances are it wasn’t a hornworm that bit you. A tomato or tobacco hornworm (or any hornworm or insect for that matter) will do whatever it can to protect itself, especially if you handle it for too long. However, it doesn’t defend itself by biting. A hornworm will spit out the contents of its stomach, it will wiggle and thrash about, and it may even wrap itself around your finger, but it does not have the capability to sting or pierce the skin.

    (Ref: www. allaboutworms. com/tomato-and-tobacco-hornworms)

    Thank you

    Thank you

    Hornworm tragedy

    I agree with the one comment as to “Feels like fire” , in reference to being stung/bitten by these things. Anyone that has felt the sting/bite from one of these things will never pick one up with their bare hands again. The first time I had this happen I thought possibly it was me or a wasp encounter etc.

    The second time my father-n-law tried to warn me to look for them before picking the tomatoes. Too late as one was under a leaf above the tomato and it pierced the back of my hand. Felt like fire and a stabbing pain all in one. I do not claim to understand whether a bite or sting, but. I now look before I pick tomatoes and I use pliers to remove these things. As they may have gotten me twice, but never a third time if I can help it.

    wasp larva

    So the white grains on the back are wasp eggs. How do you insure they multiply?

    Hornworms and wasps

    Hi Joe, If you see a hornworm with eggs on its back, just leave it there!  It will indeed multiply, carrying destroyers of hornworm brothers, sisters and descendants. I believe these wasps are commercially available, but it’s an expensive way to go. The best you can do is provide a nice habitat. They love flowers from the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family such as angelica, carrot, celery,coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, lovage, cow parsley, parsley, parsnip, cow parsnip, sea holly, and more. Allow some herbs to flower.

    Godzilla on my grape tomato plants

    I was horrified today to see this big fat green creature on my tomato plant stem gorging itself on my grape tomatoes. Not wanting to touch it, I managed to get it off the plant but not without a struggle and smashed it against the wooden garden container. Thankfully I found your website and tomorrow will see if any more are "out" there and look for their eggs. I already have one dead plant but can't say it was due to this creature. With the exception of the grape tomato plant missing growth at the top, my five remaining plants look o.k. I also have eggplant and peppers, all doing nicely but according to your site, hornworms also "fancy" both so I'll be checking those as well. Should the vegetable oil and Murphy's oil be used as a preventative or sprayed directly on the worms???

    Oil on Hornworms

    Hi Toni,

    Go ahead and spray it directly on the hornworms. The oil smothers and suffocates them.


    I picked off nine (9!!!) this a.m. and I just checked yesterday. I HATE these things; they have already destroyed the tops of three plants. HELP; they are so hard to spot before they get so big that they done a lot of damage. Any suggestions for the already in the ground plant?

    tomato hornworms

    Handpicking is one of the best things that you can do – you might try going out after dusk, when they are more active. It is said that if you shine a blacklight UV flashlight (found online or in hardware/building supply stores) on the leaves, the worms will show up as bright green. Look under the leaves for them. Caution: When using a blacklight, follow manufacturer’s directions; UV light can damage eyes and skin. Use UV blacklight safety glasses.

    In daytime, also check the leaves and remove any green eggs that are laid underneath. See above for biological and chemical controls. Do not remove any hornworms with cocoons on their backs – signs that parasitic braconid wasps are already at work. Encourage beneficials in the garden; plant borage (said to repel hornworms). Till your soil in fall to expose overwintering stages of the hornworm larvae.

    Tomato hornworm on my habanero plants

    I'm in a condo and have 9 pepper plants in 5 gallon buckets on my patio. Yesterday I pulled off and flushed down the toilet a green caterpillar, later identified as a Tomato Hornworm. I'm just gathering information on these as I'd never seen them before yesterday and it's my second year of growing peppers in 5 gallon buckets.

    Hornworm damage

    Is it okay to cut off hornworm damage? It might make it easier to see if I missed any while picking them off.

    Cut Off Hornworm Damage

    It is alright to prune some of the damage, but remember that the more severely you prune the foliage, the more you limit plant growth. The foliage has already experienced damage from the hornworms, so you should be very selective about any further pruning. Trim to the point where you feel you will be able to notice any hornworms appearing, and be sure to remove the hornworms as soon as you see them. 


    My cukes are growing but the are turning up on the ends they are not and inch long.What could be causing this

    misshapen cukes

    Misshapen cucumbers can be a result of a few things:

    • possible poor pollination which could be due to lack of insect pollinators; bees are cukes’ primary pollinators; to alleviate, eliminate pesticides, if you use them. Consider planting some flowers to attract pollinators.

    • environmental stress, such as nutrient-poor soil, lack of water, or lack of sunlight; to alleviate, saturate the soil to root level when watering, add a liquid fertilizer to the water (1 tablespoon to a gallon of something like a 24-8-16 fertilizer) and apply every seven to ten days. 

    • disease, sometimes those carried by insects; to alleviate, get the cukes off the ground, by laying straw as mulch or trellising the cukes

    Tomato Horn Worms

    Hate those things....and always used to use powder that was toxic.
    This year and so far it has worked. I take equal amounts of salad oil and murphy's oil.
    Put in a water spray bottle shake and go out and keep it on the plants. I do it about 3x a month. Cheyenne pepper in the mixture is a sure fix. They hate the stuff.


    We interplant Basil with our tomato's and have not had a problem for about 5 years

    i have a moon flower plant

    i have a moon flower plant that appeared out of nowhere about 3-4 months ago. today my wife discovered the tomato hornworm on the underside of some leaves, is this something that attracts them?

    The tomato hornworm

    The tomato hornworm caterpillars can be found on tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, moon flowers and tobacco plants. The hawkmoth is attracted to the moon flower and lays its eggs on the leaves.

    I read them ALL :-) Some

    I read them ALL :-) Some cute, some frighting, a couple made me laugh.

    For the first time in YEARS I have horn-worms! And a lot of them. I live in No. Nevada for 13+ years now and this is only the Second time I have gotten these worms. They are eating my Tomatoes, Potatoes (on the other side of the house LOL) and my Bell pepper plants! I am having a VERY hard time keeping up with them!

    I normally NEVER apply ANY kind of pesticides on my garden, but will be trying the "Natural" remedies posted on here.

    I too have ALWAYS done companion planting, lots of basil and Mary Gold flowers (I read long ago Mature Dill isn't good for the tomatoes) and yet I still have those HUGE green Ninjas. This morning as I was checking the plants one little, sorry, Big bugger reared up LOL chop-chop LOL cute. Hated to snag him, but want my tomatoes more :-)

    I'm wondering IF all the rain we got (see flash flooding) of resent is why I have them this year.? We have been in a drought for Sooo long I had gotten use to minimal predatory insects that infest my garden...Aphids always bad, this year not so much :-)

    I ALWAYS til the ground up... a Few times before the plants go in the ground. This year I grew all be three plants by seed...It was so wonderful :-) and the weather just wasn't with me this year. Normally I have the best garden around.

    Is it possible for the worms/larvae to stay in the ground for more then one year? And is it possible that even with REALLY good tilling they are still hidden really well in the ground?

    I couldn't find any Borage seeds to grow. Next year I am going to have to buy a Lot of this plant.

    One more Q: Can I grow Borage from seed?

    I've had problems every year

    I've had problems every year with tomato worms in New Mexico. Picking them off is time consuming but the only effective solution I've found. This year I bought a black light flashlight from Amazon ($15.00) and checked my plants after dark. My wife and I can't believe how effective it is. They show up great. We now appear to be free of the tomato worms. Just thought I would pass this info along.

    You can plant Borage in

    You can plant Borage in between tomato plant. And you should not have any more worms..

    I live in Charleston, & I had

    I live in Charleston, & I had never heard of a hornworm, much less seen one. I must say that it scared me! Huge! It decimated my whole Cherokee crop in 2 days by ITSELF. I've never encountered such destruction! They may be kinda "cute", but beware: they will destroy all your hard work. We named him "Ivan" because of the eye-like markings on his sides, & whisked him off to the back yard before he could start on my bell peppers.

    Not sure what u have going

    Not sure what u have going on. I'm thinking it's horn worms. I only have one plant now the other one I had died. But I'm noticing curled up leaves with tiny green worms. And a lot of eaten leaves, even cut flowers with a kind of web.around the worms. What are they and how can I get rid of them. I don't want to lose my plant?

    Hi, Joshua, We hate to see

    Hi, Joshua, We hate to see you lose a plant but we're not sure what this might be. Usually any worm on a plant is a problem, so pick them off if you see them. Tiny green worms could very well become large green worms—hornworms!—and you don't want those, so eliminate the little and large things. You could also soak the plant in a pyrethrum solution. This is a safe pest repellant. (It worked two years ago when little white worms appeared all over my tomatoes.) Follow directions for mixing and really soak the plant.
    We hope this helps.

    Just anecdotal in nature:

    Just anecdotal in nature: located in Central Washington, I had a great year for tomatoes and eggplant one year.The new garden had been planted where alfalfa had previously been grown. Then the horned worms hit. They were everywhere. I picked half of a 3Lb coffee can full of them. I tossed one to the chickens and they went nuts for it. So, I tossed all of them in with the chickens. They loved them, running around stealing the worms from each other. The next morning all but one of 20 chickens were dead. There was no other variable changed other than the worms.

    Oh, no! Nobody else here

    Oh, no! Nobody else here appears to have had that happen to their chickens, Dan. How terrible and shocking to find. We are so sorry.

    I never fed that many worms

    I never fed that many worms to my chickens, and all the ones I did feed them never affected them one way or the other. Sorry for your loss.

    Tomatoes are in the night

    Tomatoes are in the night shade family which is very toxic to chickens. The fruit is ok, but the stems and leaves are poisonous to chickens. The worms eat only the leaves and stems... That's why the chickens died. So sorry for your loss

    I planted some tomato plants

    I planted some tomato plants in our garden this year (first time growing a garden), and this morning, I saw a caterpillar eating through the stems of my plants.

    This had happened with the other plants, but I never saw a caterpillar until now.

    What's weird about this caterpillar is this it only eats through the bottom of the stem- but it leaves the rest of the plant intact. Could it be a "regular" caterpillar, or maybe a hornworm? It didn't look like a hornworm in any way, however.

    Thanks in advance.

    Perhaps it is a cutworm?

    Perhaps it is a cutworm? These are usually nocturnal, but they cut through the base of young plants. Check this page for more information and photos:

    That would be cut worms they

    That would be cut worms they attack the stem of small plants

    I have found neem oil to be

    I have found neem oil to be very effective,for horn worms, and other leaf eating and sucking insects. It is probably the safest.
    It is not instantaneous. It causes worms to forget to eat,as well as many other symptoms. It is not harmful tobeneficials, because they dont eat or suck the leaves. youmight smother them though, so spray later in day, when they're not active. I live in sacramento, it gets quite hot here summmertime, no adverse effects so far, on my tomatos. most organic treatment I think.

    you don't even need protective clothing. It is effective in very small concentrations.

    I would feed any I pick to my

    I would feed any I pick to my chickens and watch the madness ensue. So far I have not had any horn worms but the stink bugs were a real menace this year. Perfect tomatoes with little black dots and they taste bad wherever they are poked at.

    Ended up having half a harvest due to a watering issue and the stink bugs. I think better weed control would have helped.

    My tomato plants are healthy,

    My tomato plants are healthy, and produced many flowers and tomatoes. They were so heavy with tomatoes that the cages fell over and had to be propped up. As I pick the tomatoes, I'm finding about half of them have a little black worm in them. I've seen these around the yard all the years I've lived here, and this is the first time I've seen them in the tomatoes. The live worm curls in a circle and it's about 1/3 inch long. The beefsteak tomatoes are ruined and half the Romas are infested. The cherry tomatoes have a few, but they fared the best.
    How do I protect against these in the future? They've never been a problem in the past

    Hi, Donna, It sounds like the

    Hi, Donna,
    It sounds like the tomato pinworm. These overwinter in soil, especially that of greenhouses. The first recommendation is "clean soil." (Don't we all think we've got clean soil?) Essentially, if you buy transplants, get your tomatoes from a trusted source. Keep your garden clean last season's plant refuse. Rotate your crops.
    If you see evidence again (small holes in the leaves, for example), remove the leaves from the plant. If you see holes in the tomatoes in season, use any that are edible and dispose of the remainder.
    We hope this helps.

    I'm in the Boulder, CO area

    I'm in the Boulder, CO area and I've never seen hornworms as big as here! Moved here from Illinois last year and had them there, too. I have Marigolds all over the place right next to the tomatoes and basil less than a foot away - tons of it. Nothing helps except picking them off although I haven't tried the Bt stuff - afraid to!

    Last year when I noticed that

    Last year when I noticed that I had tomato hornworms feasting on my tomatoes, I picked and destroyed what I could find. Later, after dark, I went out in the garden armed with a blacklight on an extension cord, and lo and behold those that I missed lit up like neon lights among the leaves! Easiest way I know to get rid of the little beasts!

    Just had to share: My

    Just had to share: My community garden has been plagued with hornworms for years. This year not so: I saw only two on my plants, and each was covered (and so destroyed) by tiny white wasp cocoons.
    To attract parasitoid wasps, provide beneficial plants nearby, such as those in the carrot or cabbage families. Specifically you could include sunflowers, coriander, cornflowers, sweet alyssum, and asters.

    I just seen one for the first

    I just seen one for the first time today and was bigger then a bic lighter and long ..

    I also just saw my first one

    I also just saw my first one ever!! Thought it was some kinda mutant caterpillar lol

    bT is safe and it works. One

    bT is safe and it works. One bite and they stop feeding. It works on all kinds of caterpillars, not just hornworms. Spray seems to not be the problem since you can wash it off,and it is in the soil naturally in small amounts, but when it is used in corn or other seeds as a GMO not so sure that it is safe.

    You wrote earlier by saying:

    You wrote earlier by saying: "don't crush them", why not? When I found one on one of my tomato plant, I sniped him in two. Is there a consequence?

    I'm curious about this as

    I'm curious about this as well. Why not crush them? Prior to reading this, I found one and I did crush it - will it attract others or something?

    Other than it being a icky

    Other than it being a icky job that could leave a stain, it is OK to crush them; it is a popular control method. For those who are squeamish about crushing so large an insect, though, dropping them into soapy water is less gooey. We'll revise the article so that it is clearer. Thank you!

    Today I found several leaves

    Today I found several leaves of my potted tomato plant eaten...there were several "horn worms" attached to the branches, so with a long handled pair of plyers I pulled them off and dropped them in a bucket...I then sprayed the plant with liquid "Sevin"...about an hour later I found several large and small worms laying on top of the soil in the the way I also sprayed the ones in the bucket and they were dead...

    Ridding cut worms from tomatoes

    Pest verses Plant
    I've been told by an agronomist that using "Sevin" on tomato plants for Hornworms will also eliminate the beneficial insects such as the pollinating bees and without bees we have no garden yield.
    Has anyone tried spraying plant with soap and water mixture?

    I found Hornworms on all my

    I found Hornworms on all my pepper plants, I am sure they have been munching on my strawberries as well. They are really harming my garden! Is there a way thatI can get rid of them through a "biological cycle" so to speak? Can I purchase these wasps as opposed to attempting to attract them? Or is picking/killing them and using BT the best option? Does Neem oil work? Is there a use for these worms? I would rather not mass murder creatures who are just trying to survive. (I know it sounds new-agey, but I would rather avoid that. Thank you!!!

    To clarify my earlier post I

    To clarify my earlier post I had a huge infestation of hornworms the first year. I did a lot of research on organic gardening during the off season. Borage is an herb and when planted in a cross section between the tomato plants it gives off a scent that Hornworns hate and will not go near. Ever since i started using this method I havent seen another worm on my plants. Hopefully it works for everyone else as well.

    I watched a red wasp hover

    I watched a red wasp hover in, bite a hornworm, about 3 inch long, fall about 3 leaves down and then eat the entire hornworm. The hornworm kinda melted into the wasp jaws.

    Since then I have left the two wasp nests alone out near the garden.

    I haven't really had much of a problem but those worms can really do damage in a short time. I am trying container potatoes this year, and 1 hornworm decimated one plant and half another before I found him. I find the droppings the dead give away. Sort of look like green mini croquet balls. Anyway after seeing these I started looking harder and sure enough a huge hornworm chowing down hiding in plain site. Similar to how the article describes finding one as shocking. Anyway killed it and placed it on the bird offering alter so he should be gone by this evening.

    Tomatoes are a total disappointment this year anyway so no big deal. Next year only heat loving varieties.

    Really appreciate your most

    Really appreciate your most informative article/response.. Just found my FIRST hornworm today, bagged him up and threw in in outside trash bin(and, YES, Very cold-hearted since I have a difficult time killing insects, rather go out of my way to spare and relocate them OUTSIDE!!! At any rate, 1/3 of my tomato plant was eaten..and Not by deer(due to tall fencing!!) LOVE the idea of offering the "Little Devils" to the birds though..LOL!!:):)

    When I found my first

    When I found my first hornworm, and double-checked it's identity using google images, I was intrigued by a photo of one being held in the mouth of a cardinal.
    So I put this 4" long caterpillar on the pavement near my bird feeder (so it would be easily seen). Sure enough, within about 10 minutes, a female cardinal took it. She dropped it twice, but she was determined. I don't like squishing, but I am happy to provide the cardinals with food.

    Be Careful With Neem Oil I

    Be Careful With Neem Oil
    I also read that neem oil work's well at getting rid of garden pest, but before you spray check the label, it will definitely kill your plants if used in area's where the weather is Hot. I have also tried hot sauce, garlic, dish soap with water and needless to say it was not effective in the least.
    I inspect my plants daily, and pick off the nasty hornworms by hand. It is the only thing that I have found that works the best so far.
    Happy Gardening to All of you.

    No, these are not the worms

    No, these are not the worms I'm talking about. I have never seen these before. I know what the hornworm looks like. These are BLACK WITH YELLOW STRIPES DOWN EACH SIDE.

    Just look up tomato hornworm

    Just look up tomato hornworm on Google and there are lots of pictures. I saw a worm just as you described

    It is a catawba worm.

    It is a catawba worm.

    I think the catapillar you

    I think the catapillar you may be describing is a milk weed catapillar..which will turn into a monarch butterfly...

    Last year was my first year

    Last year was my first year dealing with hornworms. I take pride in my tomatoes. From seed to harvest i trend my pants. It was a surprise that these large lazy worms were treating my hard work like a buffet. We also have chickens so we let them loose in the gardens. Chickens are a great way to help control the pests and the chickens really seem to like the hornworms. However there is still a need to check my gardens everyday to make sure there are no pests. But i don't mind. Looking forward too another great gardening season.

    dishwashing liquid IS A

    dishwashing liquid IS A chemical...hello....

    Everything is a chemical or

    Everything is a chemical or chemical mixture...HELLO

    Thanks for your comment. So

    Thanks for your comment. So true.

    The cocoons were stuck tight,

    The cocoons were stuck tight, and the worm kept flailing sbout, so we quit. It the escaped, time to find a new one!

    Connor, Thanks for sharing.

    Connor, Thanks for sharing. That worm is what they call the "walking dead" due to those cocoons.

    My kids also want it as a

    My kids also want it as a 'pet', so is there a way to take the eggs off? Thanks!

    This is a first! Once the

    This is a first! Once the wasp eggs hatch, the hornworm will be eaten. It is the cycle of life. We have never removed the cocoons and probably would not, but let us know what happens!

    We found a hornworm with 5

    We found a hornworm with 5 white, bumpy specks on it. Are those eggs from a wasp?
    We're guessing they are.

    Those are the white cocoons

    Those are the white cocoons of the wasp.

    We live in southern Arizona;

    We live in southern Arizona; our backyard consists of grass, 4 trees (orange, desert willow, mesquite), and a large variety of roses, lantana, and vines. We have found tomato hornworms wandering in our yard approximately every 6-8 weeks for the last few years. However, for the last couple months we have been finding them dead all over the yard. There have not been any signs of involvement by wasps that we can tell. Their coloring is no longer bright but instead is kind of brown, and they are kind of soft and mushy (it is evident when I pick them up with a pooper scooper--the one I picked up this morning actually tore into two pieces). Does anyone have any idea of what kills tomato hornworms other than wasps? The only thing I can think of that has been unusual around here is a phenomenal weather situation July 15 (2013) when our neighborhood was hit, ripping 2-story high, decades old trees out of the ground, root and all, throwing them into homes, ours included, so I have wondered about the possibility of some soil disturbance or something, I don't know. Help! Thank you kindly.

    We're stumped. We can only

    We're stumped. We can only imagine wasp predation.

    I too live in Arizona. I hear

    I too live in Arizona. I hear from a lot of people that soap and water and then just spray your plants repels the pests away and is safe for the plants. I have yet to try it but after finding 3 of those hornworms today on my tomato plants it will be tried effective immediately. also with some netting/shade screening as well.

    I planted about 6 or 7 plants

    I planted about 6 or 7 plants this yr . We had a ton of tomatoes , some plants were 3 to 4 feet wide, alas I too believe I have these ugly worms. I have found holes right through the tomatoes at times. I have a question , is it safe to cut up the tomatoe and eat what the worm has not eaten ? Are there effective moth traps out there ? I have read about the sticky traps for indoor cereal moths .
    Should my ground be rotatiled in the late fall to get rid of any edges , or worms? Next yr I will start going out to examine the plants in evening I guess , if they make good fish bait , worms beware!!

    I don't know, maybe they are

    I don't know, maybe they are fruit worms , I guess I will have to find one to identify it. Does newspaper work with deterring fruit worms?

    If your pests are tomato

    If your pests are tomato fruitworms, you can control them by picking off any leaves that have tiny white or creamy eggs on them (check both sides of the leaves). Introduce beneficial insects, such as Trichogramma wasps or lacewings. Place row covers over the plants, at least until the plants flower, to prevent adult moths from laying eggs on the plants. Spray Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). Till the soil before and after the growing season. Plant tomatoes away from corn, which is a major host for these pests (in which case, it is called a corn earworm).

    As for whether to cut out the bad part of the tomato and use the rest, we wouldn't recommend it with fruitworms. Because these larvae live inside the fruit, they eat, tunnel, and leave waste inside.

    Hornworms, however, mainly attack the foliage but may also take bites out of the fruit. They do not live inside the fruit throughout their larval stage, however. If your pest is a hornworm, it might be possible to cut out the bitten area of the tomato fruit and use the rest (after a thorough washing); be sure to inspect the fruit thoroughly first, to see how far it has been eaten, and whether the insect has left frass (waste) as well--in which case, we'd suggest not using the fruit.

    I am a preschool teacher.

    I am a preschool teacher. Yesterday, my kids and I found a big fat beautiful Horned Tomato Worm on our tomato plants in our outdoor classroom. He is now living happily in our classroom munching on an endless supply of tomato leaves with 12 very excited and eager kids watching him. We have added tall sticks for him to climb and lots of leaves in hopes that he will build a cocoon and hatch into a moth. They have found books about caterpillars, looked at pictures on the internet, and even collected leaves to feed him. They are so excited to show him to everyone willing to look.

    Yes, I know these worms are pests for most of you, but for this class, this worm is a wonderful opportunity for the kids to experience the bear witness to the magnificent and wondrous cycle of life while fostering language, science, math (rulers to measure him and counting days if he forms a cocoon), cooperative learning, ownership /responsibility, peer interactions, and so much more. For me, finding this garden pest was just an excuse to turn a little pest into a teachable experience.

    Thanks for sharing,Denisestl.

    Thanks for sharing,Denisestl. We can imagine that hornworm munching away as hornworms do. What a great purpose for these otherwise "cute" green caterpillars.

    My big geraniums were striped

    My big geraniums were striped in just a few days. I didn't think geraniums had many enemies but when I looked closer they are covered with baby horn worms. I want to just cut them way back to try and control the infestation.

    I, too, am a fan of

    I, too, am a fan of hornworms. They have been on my tomato plants and seem to only prune the tops. Almost always, they get the cocoons on them, meaning they are dying. I don't like the idea of something being eaten from the inside out. I just found one on a flower and it has eaten the top out, but I don't care as I get the opportunity to study him up close. Tonight I am observing him trying to find something to eat as there are no tomato plants where he is, and he is trying to eat, I believe, my small yaupon shrub. I don't how he can eat these tougher leaves. I did notice that his mouth is protruding when looking for food. I have never noticed this because I have never seen one at night. Very interesting.....He does not have the parasite cocoons on his back. Hopefully, he doesn't get them. He is pretty large. (I am a former teacher, retired) and a lover of science.

    What a wonderful teacher you

    What a wonderful teacher you are!!

    Good job! Your kids are so

    Good job! Your kids are so lucky to have you as a teacher. The worms may be Pests perhaps, but just the sort of thing to fire a child's imagination and, who knows? May start someone on the road to being a scientist ... Or better yet, an inspiring teacher!

    The first tomato horn worm my

    The first tomato horn worm my dad found in the garden became my pet at the age of 4. They are beautiful, soft and easy to care for. The cocoon and transformation was so fun as a kid, and they are so unusual, I couldnt wait to find a new one the next season. I spent hours patiently tracking their munching and pooping so I could bring it into my kindergarten class to share. We ended up keeping it as the class pet, and watched the transformation throughout the fall. Every year, my old kindergarden teacher would call me out of class to ask if I could find her another worm for her current kids. I brought her a worm each year until high school. I am almost 30 and just started a tomato garden in my first home. I hope I find a fat, green horned worm:) sooner than later...

    Lucky kids in your classroom!

    Lucky kids in your classroom!

    They are very lucky kids in

    They are very lucky kids in your classroom. I have hornworms on my tomatoes but I think you are doing a great job teaching these kids!!!!

    I have done this with my

    I have done this with my kids. When it is time, the caterpillar needs to dig into dirt to form its cocoon. I was surprised to hatch 16 large flies instead of the moth! Fortunately, they were in an aquarium!!!

    Growing tomatoes in a

    Growing tomatoes in a container" the plant box" first time in sev. Seasons for us. In louisiana using 'heat-resistant' tom. Var.good flavor!!! Thanks for great info on hornworm...we thought damage was being done by these little orange guys w/ black legs ~ 20 that hide in a group on cool side of one tomato, on the far side of container fr my two spectacular horn worms on other end.,will use light trick tonight to find more of these green rascals. Now to find out about the orange bugs...thanks FarmersAlmanac. My husband and i are from different generations of gardening., ya'll have restored peace in our garden and marriage.

    I have a hanging Topsy Turvy

    I have a hanging Topsy Turvy and found three of these monsters have eaten everything. I was trying to figure out how they got there but apparently they hatched on my plant.

    The little black bugs with

    The little black bugs with orange bodies and black legs that hang out in groups of 20 or so on the underside of the leaves are milkweed assassin bugs. They're kinda awesome. You're seeing them before they're fully grown. As adults they will assassinate garden pests and suck all the body fluids of their prey. Unless they're just milkweed bugs. If they remind you more of ants, like little soldiers, they're assassin bugs and safe to keep around.

    I'm battling the horned worm

    I'm battling the horned worm as well but this morning found them on my milkweed plant! I've been waiting and waiting for the monarchs to lay eggs but instead an infestation of horned worms! I'll go out and get rid of them now that I've seen a pic of the monarch worms and know that's not what's on my plant! Gardening is such work and I'd like to eat my egg plants growing and not feed the worms!

    What can you tell me about

    What can you tell me about these guys all over my lawn in Albuquerque for the past week? They are about 3" long and eating the grass and/ or spurge on my lawn. They are yellow with red and black spots with a stripe down both sides. Wish I could include photos...

    I draped bird netting over my

    I draped bird netting over my plants to keep the birds off the tomatoes and chilis, and found it has the added advantage of keeping the tomato worms away. The mesh is big enough to let the pollinating insects through, but keeps the large Mandunca moths out.

    Now that gigantic green worms

    Now that gigantic green worms ate all of my lovely tomatoes my grandson found a huge worm in the soil After I had remove the destroyed plant. So my question is. Can I plant some other plant in this same soil and Not have these creatures destroy??

    Tomato hornworms are the

    Tomato hornworms are the scurge of tomato growers. The larvae burrow into the soil to pupate and emerge next spring as a moth. You can plant in the same soil—but not plants of the same famiy. Practicing crop rotation, as well as introducing natural enemies (parasitic braconid wasp, for example) can help to relieve the problem.
    Some folks suggest that growing your tomatoes in containers can minimize the presence of hormworms. Remember, too that crops in containers (or the soil used) also should be rotated for best results.

    Forget the idea that

    Forget the idea that containers are safe zone, I planted 2 patio tomato plants and I have a hornworm invasion.

    I also had a patio tomato

    I also had a patio tomato plant up on a deck and it too has got a hornworm. It is so gross and has devastated the only productive tomato plant that I have. Bad year for tomatoes

    I also container planted

    I also container planted tomatoes in an screened in patio. This morning I removed two hornworms. Not having the heart to kill them, I removed them out to my yard. The more I read, do I really have to kill :(

    I'm sure this is an old post

    I'm sure this is an old post but I'm a first time grower and have spent the day investigating tomato & tobacco hornworms because after returning home from a couple days away I checked my plants this morning and was shocked to find the entire top deleafed and only 2.5 clusters of grape tomatoes remaining.

    I'm adding this reply because my plant is in a container AND I did plant marigolds at the base of it. I have pulled 10 of these critters off my plant.

    So containers are not immune!

    I only want to know now if the remaining plant can be saved?

    We were blown away today when

    We were blown away today when we discovered a 6 inch lone horn worm demolishing our Sunflowers from the ground up. He in jar now awaiting his demise. Lord I hope I never see one of them again. Took pictures.............UGH!!

    Today I noticed that I had 3

    Today I noticed that I had 3 worms on my plant but they had white eggs on them which are baby wasp that eat them so ill let the wasp do the work.

    I have a flower bed full of

    I have a flower bed full of moon flower plants, and these hornworms LOVE them! I have picked off about 20 in the last two days. So I've been searching how to get rid of them. I came across some recipes for making your own pesticides out of all natural ingredients. Here is one...
    Onion and Garlic Spray
    Mince one organic clove of garlic and one medium sized organic onion. Add to a quart of water. Wait one hour and then add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of liquid soap to the mix. This organic spray will hold its potency for one week if stored in the refrigerator.
    I have not tried it yet, but plan on it!!! They eat my plants just as you describe them eating tomatoes!!!

    I used ducttape around my

    I used ducttape around my huge barrel I
    have the toamtoe plant int, so far i havent seen one, it took 6 worms and half a plant now damaged befor i figured a way keep the darn things away.
    Only bad part is i have to replace the duct tape every 3 days, depends on the weather cause the sticky part wears off quick being out in the high humidity and then sun beating down on it all day.

    I am so glad I saw this page.

    I am so glad I saw this page. First I was gonna let the caterpillars be, hoping they'd turn into cute little butterflies! After reading the problems they cause, I decided to get to work. They had already eaten huge portions of my plant to the stem. I found about eight worms covered with the wasp pupae, all small and still (presumably dead), so I let them be. I removed three huge ones that were uninfected and still active. Will the friendly wasps take care of the rest? I hope so!

    Has anyone tried neem oil?

    Has anyone tried neem oil? I've heard it works very well and is about as safe as anything can be.

    I found a huge horn worm on

    I found a huge horn worm on my tomatoes and bean rollers on my beans. I used neem oil and all were gone. They say to use for 7-14 days to make sure. I am using every other day for 7 days. But, I haven't seen any more worms.I use at early evening so it can work all night. Neem oil can't take full sun from the day!

    Neem oil can't be used on

    Neem oil can't be used on plants in hot climates. I tried it last year and it killed the pests as well as my plants.
    I live in the Southern Central Valley of California, where the temperature is very hot and dry. We have temps of 100+ for at times a month straight and sometimes even longer.
    I believe that Neem oil cannot be used in temps over 85 degrees. I've read about a cornstarch based bacteria called BT, that is effective at killing hornworms, and its not harmful to plants or animals.
    Good luck with your garden.

    Oh my goodness!! I just found

    Oh my goodness!! I just found three large hornworms on my tomato plants and pepper plants. I kept inspecting my plants and I found eggs in a leaf. Took those off too. Then I found a baby hornworm. Im so upset! This is the first time we have done a vegtable garden. Im pretty proud of my work. I will not let these pesty little green things ruin it.

    I've been finding adult

    I've been finding adult worms, teeny worms and larvae on backsides of leaves every single day on my plants. I've been picking off no less than 5 a day. Some days 10-15. The natural gardening site recommends 1 cup of vegetable oil, 1.5 cups water and 2 teaspoons dish soap in a spray bottle. You can add white pepper or cayenne if you lie. If you have really hot days, you should spray the concoction on at dusk and make sure to shower the plants with water before the heat of the day to avoid leaf burn. Then repeat the process. it requires some discipline but, they tell me it works and they should be long gone. I'm starting tonight.

    I found one these critters on

    I found one these critters on my tomato plant about 5 days ago and pinch him off and squshed him on the sidewalk , well i inspect the plant everyday now and not seen one, today i noticed the top of my plant, i only have one, it looked really sparced today, i go look closer and found three huge worms on it, this is also a above ground huge barrel pot i planted it in
    to to keep from these sort problems but it doesnt work, the plant did look like the best one i ever planted in years and now thse worms have devoured some it in just few hours.
    Nothing more agrivating then have something like this destroy something gives u joy, so i hate puting any pestcides on my plants even if it says its safe, what can u trust these days, so i just have to keep close eye everyday make sure i keep them off and kill them.

    I inspect my tomato plant

    I inspect my tomato plant every day and have never had a problem. Today I went out there and every one of my big juicy red tomatoes have been eaten (including all of the flowers). I found 2 green hornworms on my plant; each one is about 5 inches long. I pulled them off, but I'm afraid my plant is a complete waste now. These are some ugly suckers, and I cannot believe how quick they eat. Within a matter of 5 hours, they managed to eat every tomato I had on my plant...Unbelievable!

    HELP! I have a bunch of small

    HELP! I have a bunch of small greenish eggs in bunches and rows all over my patio tomato plants. But its on the stems of the tomatoes not the leaves! What r they? And is there a homemade solution to spray on the tomato stems to kill them? Its been over a week and they havent hatched or anything and i see no damage or insecets on my plants.... Idk what they are but i want them gone... Please help thanks!

    These good be lacewing eggs.

    These good be lacewing eggs.  Lacewings are beneficial insects and eat pests! They love apids. Do not kill them. Perhaps you want to take a sample to your local garden center or cooperative extension.

    I, too, have found these

    I, too, have found these nasty looking hornworms on my tomato plants. I noticed the top stems and leaves looking like they were cut off. After a little inspection I found one hanging upside down on a branch. I fed him to the robins in my yard. I looked around a bit longer and found a tomato damaged on one side. Not far from the tomato, I found another worm. I pulled him off and fed him to the robins too. They were waiting for another tasty morsel. I'm going to get some sevin tomorrow.

    Sevin does not work, Sprayed

    Sevin does not work, Sprayed and powdered, next day I find 2 more so I isolated them, sprayed them with sevin directly. They looked to be irratated but a day later they were alive and well pacing around the edge of the cage trying to escape.

    So what did you use to get

    So what did you use to get rid of the worms? I have rot spots on the bottom of my tomatoes. Does this have anything to do with the hornworms or is it some other problem? Thank you, Susan

    A couple of things: Look for

    A couple of things:
    Look for them at night using a UV flashlight. The worms are a brilliant green while the leaves are purple. Much easier to see. Also the worm feces is a very bright green. So if you see green spots on the leaves, go worm hunting. Don't use UV googles but DON'T LOOK AT THE LIGHT DIRECTLY!
    A very dilute solution of caffeine seems to deter them. Be carful applying to frequently as it can harm the plants. I'm going to try the BT method next.

    What is the BT method?

    What is the BT method?

    I have inspected my tomato

    I have inspected my tomato plants almost dally looking for these horrible pests. Today was the first time I discovered them. They were at the top of the plant. One very large, about 2 inches long and the other one much smaller. I pulled them off and sprinkled the entire plant with Sevin powder. Do these warms grow large so large in a very short time. With my almost daily inspection, I am amazed at the size of them.

    I will tell you that

    I will tell you that marigolds do not work to protect your tomato plants from Hornworms I had 2 plants surrounded by 6 flowering marigolds and the tomato plants were stripped by 3 hornworms in a day.

    Tomato horn worms eat

    Tomato horn worms eat marigolds to. They ate my marigolds then my beautiful pepper plant. I found him, he was huge.

    I found 5 red hornworms in my

    I found 5 red hornworms in my garden. I been planting tomatoes for the last 3 years and is the first time I found this suckers. So, tomorrow will be hunting day. Be aware because I will get those eggs. Thank you everyone for the tips.

    I too have these terrible

    I too have these terrible worms!! They have eaten the tops of 3 large plants, I have picked them off and killed them as I see them. I think I will be going the route of using the BT insecticide treatment. I just couldn't believe how much of the plant these suckers ate before I found it! Unbelievable!

    I recently had two of these

    I recently had two of these on my tomato plant. What helps is put a stick up to them, then they will crawl up the stick. with them still hanging on to the stick walk to the closest ant bed and throw the stick with the worm still on into the ant bed. Then watch the FRENZY!

    I read in a book about garden

    I read in a book about garden pests that you can spray tomato plants with a mixture of tabasco sauce and water to get rid of tomato hornworms. It did not give the ratio of tabasco sauce to water. Has anyone tried this? Did it work? How much tabasco sauce did you use in a quart of water?

    Yes I tried it. It's one

    Yes I tried it. It's one ounce of tabasco per gallon of water. I used it several weeks ago....found 2 big horn worms today. You try and let me know if it works.

    I've heard that too.

    I've heard that too. However, these catapillars devoured half my jalepeno crop...ate the peppers right up to the stem. So am am doubtful that tobasco would deter them?

    You have to add dish soap or

    You have to add dish soap or vegetable to the mix. They hate both.

    Used Dawn dish soap diluted

    Used Dawn dish soap diluted in sprayer, also Hot Chili Sauce, garlic mix it didn't faze them! Can't use Neem Oil due to the heat. Going to try BT.

    I read a few articles last

    I read a few articles last year regarding the use of hot peppers, garlic and water, that you spray on plants to keep such as aphids, hornworms, etc, away. I can tell you that it was not only messy, but it didn't work. I tried everything except for bt, which I've read about this year. I tried sevin dust but for some reason it made the leaves of my tomatoes turn very hard . I had 7 tomato plants last year and the few tomatoes that I had were very small and not good.
    I had 2 square foot gardens, that I grew okra, eggplant, beets, peas, zucchini, jalapeños, Lima beans, radish, green beans, bell pepper, and cow peas, which all yielded a great crop. I also grew pickling cucumbers on the east side of my house that also did extremely well. I did have a problem with aphids, and read that neem oil worked well, but for me after it got hot, it killed a few of my plants. I live in the Southern Central Valley of California, and the summer temperature easily tops 100+ degrees sometimes a month or more straight. It was 112 degrees just two days ago. So I've got to be careful what I use on my plants.
    I planted pickling cucumbers again in the same spot as last year. I noticed that the leaves were being eaten rather quickly, so I researched the Web, most site's either said that it was slugs or a beetle. I put down slug bait, and the next morning, I noticed that more leaves were eaten. I went through the plants, turning the leaves over to find a slew of hornworms noshing away on my cucumbers.
    I haven't found anything yet that's worked without harming the plants, other than inspecting and picking off the hornworms by hand. I will be definitely looking into BT as a remedy. It is a cornstarch based bacteria, once the hornworms eat it, it will paralyze the stomach and they die. Its also approved for organic gardening. I hope that this helps you.
    Good luck with your garden.

    I haven't found any big green

    I haven't found any big green worms. Just little fuzzy ones eating holes in the tomato leaves. The leaves look like swiss cheese. Are these the baby horn worms? Is there any way to get ride of them before they turn into the big worms and destroy the fruit and the plant? They are all tiny and fuzzy and black and white, about 1/4 inch at most right now.

    Another of nature's

    Another of nature's mysteries: It sounds like you have tomato fruitworm, which will soon become a moth...but we can't be sure.
    Yes, they could destroy the plant, esp the fruit. If it's the fruitworm, some sources recommend Trichogramma spp. egg parasites; the larval parasite Hyposoter exiguae; and predators such as bigeyed bug and minute pirate bug. (The idea is, fight nature with nature.) However, some even advise using organically acceptable Bt (consult your local extension or nursery). In the meantime, pick them off and eliminate them.

    a friend told me she heard

    a friend told me she heard that putting pennies around the base of your plants will stop the worms from crawling up the stalks, something about the copper in the penny they dont like, will this not harm my plants?

    Many gardeners say copper

    Many gardeners say copper pennies deter snails and slugs. However, only pennies before 1982 are made of copper; now they are mainly zinc. See our Pest section for good ways to deter differently kinds of worms.

    Since the moth lays the eggs

    Since the moth lays the eggs on the leaves, it makes since to me, that the worms hatch in the leaves, and never have to crawl up the stem, that is in the ground. Thus the penny, whether it has copper in it or not, would be ineffective.

    I don't think that idea will

    I don't think that idea will work. Pennies haven't been made with copper for many years.

    That makes CENTS!

    That makes CENTS!

    Has anyone tried to use

    Has anyone tried to use beneficial nematodes to control tomato hornworms? We had a flea problem in the backyard and were looking for nonchemical flea control when we came across beneficial nematodes. We released three different varieties which will invade and use pests in the soil as hosts, killing them. beneficial nematodes do not harm plants or animals, only soil dwelling pests.

    I used to have hornworms I

    I used to have hornworms
    I used to get hornworms on my tomato plants every year but ten years ago they disappeared, and this year I discovered their demise was caused by Spined Soldier Bugs that live in my garden. The Soldier Bugs look like brown watermelon seeds with a tent-shaped back and sharp points on their shoulders. They pierce other bugs with a sharp beak and suck their juices out, but their favorite food is tomato worms and every plant has one patrolling it.

    This year I put ducks in the

    This year I put ducks in the garden and they patrolled for bugs all season long. I found not a single hornworm on my tomatoes!

    I remember this from my

    I remember this from my childhood and it works. But only if ducks are allowed where you live which unfortunately is not the norm these days.

    I seem to get these SOBs

    I seem to get these SOBs every year. Have done everything from seven to plucking them off. I HAVE discovered that if they have stripped a branch of leaves and you pluck off the worm that the leaves WILL grow back and they CAN produce after that. Now that I know what the Moth that starts this crap looks like I can KILL the MOMS and DADS of these dang things. Side story. I have two container pots of tomates that I have brought in for the season, and I am getting tomatoes from them. Imagine my surprise when I found TWO of these SOBs on my INDOOR TOMATOS! That SAME day I found a HUGE moth in the kitchen, across from where the plants are. We took it outside. If I had known then that THIS was the MOTHER!!! I would have killed it and been done with it. Noooo I let it LIVE! "I'll get you next time you ugly!"

    HA HA HA Diann! Your comment

    HA HA HA Diann! Your comment made me laugh! :] I just looked up their adult form photo so I can kill them BEFORE they destroy my tomatoes!

    Loved reading this. I found

    Loved reading this. I found an UGLY on my tomatoes yesterday and tried to figure out what the heck it was. Thanks to this link, I identified it and am now looking for the MOTHER of this SOB! Mine had eggs attached, which I am assuming are wasp eggs. It is now in a zip lock bag and not long for this world. Perhaps I should let it go because the baby wasp will soon have it to snack on...or I'm assuming so! Thanks for your enlightening comments! Happy Gardening!! Fondly,

    Thanks for the laugh! I just

    Thanks for the laugh! I just came inside to get on the internet to identify this little creature because they have destroyed 4 tomato plants overnight. I squished two that I found but I know there are more out there. I couldn't wait for the white pods to change into a wasp!!! There has to be a solution to this problem. Somebody needs to HELP us out here so we can enjoy our fresh tomatoes.

    so if i understand this

    so if i understand this correctly,if i have found 2 hornworms,chances are i will find many more?? i have never had this problem before in my garden,could they have been in the siol of the plant when i purchased them?

    Hi, Nancy, Thank you for your

    Hi, Nancy,
    Thank you for your interest in The Old Farmer's Almanac.
    To answer your first question, yes, it's certainly possible that you will find more hornworms in your garden. Watch to see if the leaves on your tomatoes "disappear" (get eaten) and for black "droppings" (poop). You might even find that bites have been made in your tomatoes.
    As to whether they came in the soil, we can only offer a maybe. Just because you never had them before doesn't mean you'll never have them. Eggs are deposited on plant leaves and the mature larvae drop off into the soil at maturity. They dig into the soil where they form a pupal cell before attacking the plant.
    Sources suggest that tillage can eliminate as much as 90% of the larvae. So can crop rotation.
    One thing to note: if you see a hornworm with a lot of little "white things" on it that resemble grains of rice, let it live! The white things are parasites that will kill the worm and grow/emerge to become predator wasps.
    I hope this helps!

    I'm a novice gardener with a

    I'm a novice gardener with a few herbs and tomatoes in my front yard.

    I'm surprised to hear about these plants that are supposed to keep the hornworms away. I have a very small garden and it contains one cherry tomato plant, along with two basils and two rosemarys, among others.

    I first noticed that some of my lower and inner leaves were wilting and dying, but I thought it was because I have to rearrange the plant pretty often to support it. It wasn't until today that I saw some stripped branches and huge hornworms. Now that I look at it, it seems like almost all of the inner leaves and up to a third of the outer leaves have egg pouches on them! What can I do? I don't want to kill bees, as they're the ones making my tomatoes possible. Is the pesticide the right choice for me?

    Most of the worms I found were parasitized, but it seems like there are too many for them all to get that.

    Thanks for your help!

    Hornworms usually start at

    Hornworms usually start at the top of the plant, eating interior leaves. Handpicking is probably best, since you have a small garden. Use gloves to grasp them and drop them into a bucket of soapy water or, if you can stand to, squish them. Gently scrape the eggs off the leaves and destroy them. If you can, it’s good to leave the parasitized hornworms alone so that the braconid wasps can hatch from the eggs; the caterpillars will die at that time. If this doesn’t work, BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki) can be sprayed on smaller caterpillars; it will not affect bees.

    Thank you for the

    Thank you for the info!

    We had 4 of these worms on

    We had 4 of these worms on our plants this year and I had never seen the wasp eggs on them in the past so I assumed they were their own offspring. They were completely covered with them. If I had known what they were, I wouldn't have thrown them in the firepit. Worked good to kill them! Next time I will just let nature take it's coarse and let the wasps hatch.

    I have been gardening and

    I have been gardening and growing tomatoes for years. This is the first time I have seen one of these owful worms and by the time I found it it had destroyed my tomatoes and eaten nearly all the leaves on two plants. This thing was as big around as my thum and about 4 inches long. I pulled both plants out and tossed the whole thing since I didn't know what it was or if there were others lurking around. I have never ever seen one of these on my plants before. Now I will be buying tomatoes until next summer.

    I have tried every method the

    I have tried every method the reader above have suggested for the last 10 yrs. None of them work except for 7 dust, and pluckin em off and giving them to the chickens. (they appreciate the ugly sobs)

    If soapy water will take care

    If soapy water will take care of the worms when placed in it will it take care of them if I spray soapy water directly to the plant? Thanks

    Yes, but don't overdo it. A

    Yes, but don't overdo it. A few drops in a LOT of water. Specifically: Mix 1 teaspoon of clear liquid dish soap in 1 quart of water to make an insecticidal soap. Spray just when you need it--and spray in early morning or late evening-or it will burn your plants.

    Last year I had eight large

    Last year I had eight large hornworms on two small container tomato plants. This year I am going to try diatomaceous earth. I have read that it destroys the insides of the worms. It has to be dry to be effective, dust it on the plant and soil. It is organic and harmless to pets and humans.

    I prefer Seven and old

    I prefer Seven and old fashioned hand pluckn to remove those sob's. So best of luck in your garden.

    I decided to plant dill

    I decided to plant dill between my tomatoes this year and while the worms are back, they seem to like climbing the dill more and are much easier to spot. I have tried most methods for ridding my garden of them but being diligent and hand picking them works best. Get a good flashlight and go out a few hours after the sun has gone down. Best of luck!

    I have green worms that eat

    I have green worms that eat everything in the garden, veggies and flower leaves. They especially like morning glory leaves. They are not tomato hornworms. There is no horn, what are they and how do I get rid of them?

    We believe that you have an

    We believe that you have an inch worm problem. You can try to spray with horticultural oils or use Bacillus thuringiensis, a wilt pathogen that is only toxic to insects.

    Kill two birds with one

    Kill two birds with one stone.....with each tomato plant you plant, also plant a basil plant about a foot away. You will not see a horn worm all season and you will always have fresh basil....learned this from grandmother over 50 years ago. Been doing it all my me it works

    Sorry guys, but I have

    Sorry guys, but I have marigolds and basil in the same pot as the worms. That is not working.

    same here had both marigold

    same here had both marigold and basil planted right under and next to my cherry tomato plants and my plants were destroyed.. help please i have gone out to my raised beds last week as i had some radishes planted there last fall and picked some ,and found live hornworms right under the surface of the soil,this is Feb. and the soil is frozen...what do i do before planting comes

    The pupae overwinter in the

    The pupae overwinter in the soil. Put black plastic on the soil where you are going to plant your tomatoes. This can help prevent the moth from emerging in spring and laying eggs on your plants. The eggs will become the horn worms.

    I live in Maine so if I

    I live in Maine so if I tilled the area I was going to plant in and placed the black plastic over it until it was safe to plant, this would possibly kill the moths? I think sometime in April is possibly when I could till but planting doesn't happen until end of May. Thank you!

    Considering that I do not

    Considering that I do not have tomatoes in my yard; I'm growing three different varieties of basil and hoping to sell them in my local farmers' market, and the hornworms are decimating my basil bushes, I think we can re-evaluate this particular notion of companion planting. I had aphids in my basil, whiteflies rid of them with daily spray of organic soap and weekly neem oil treatment. Both of these I do as early in the morning as possible so the plants don't "cook". The hornworms are a most unwelcome surprise that I'm going to deal with by handpicking.
    I'm going to try woodash on a section and see if that helps. Fingers crossed

    PS. Not trying to discredit you, but I suspect there is something in addition to your basil (maybe wasps or assassin bugs) that's keeping the bugs off your tomatoes. Wish all were as lucky as you and that your luck never wavers.

    This year has been terrible.

    This year has been terrible. I usually plant marigolds but didn't this year..We have taken over 70 hornworns off. I'm sure there are more. They are destroying my 4 tomatoe plants...I have two basil plants next to one of it and that hasn't detterred them at all. I'm wondering is it too late to plant the marigolds this year? The tomatoes are still green what is left. They are heirlooms and I live at 3800 ft. Thanks for any anwers you may have!

    I haven't gardened in years.

    I haven't gardened in years. This year was the first time we purchased three tomato plants from a co-op. When my Early Girl hit 4 ft I noticed leaves missing and there a huge 3" ugly hornworm on the stem (blending in). Since we've never had a garden in the area we planted the tomatoes we were wondering if eggs were in the co-op soil... anyone else had this problem?

    I took the article in OFA to

    I took the article in OFA to heart and planted marigold plants amongst my tomatos this year and we had NO tomato worms at all. I'm assuming it worked, we have ALWAYS had these grose worms and they can devour a plant in short order.

    I do not have any hornworms,

    I do not have any hornworms, but I would welcome them for they are VERY good fishbait. just break them in to two pieces and turn one wrong side out over your hook and bream love them. Sometimes you can catch several fish with one bait.

    Planting borage among tomato

    Planting borage among tomato plants is a good deterent to hornworms as well.

    We have several different

    We have several different tomato plants planted in our garden,only a few have these small "Orange" worms eating on them, does anyone know what they are? Sevin does not kill them either.

    I have found that using a

    I have found that using a strong solution of dish soap and water in a spray bottle works great on just about any pests, no chemicals!

    I used to do that but it

    I used to do that but it destroyed my marijuana plants and my bell peppers too.

    I would like to find "won't

    I would like to find "won't kill bees" product, or alternatives to "Sevin" that really work against hornworms.

    Saving the bees is easy if

    Saving the bees is easy if you have the patience. Simply interplant complanion and compliment plants with your tomatoes: basil, borage, bee balm, dill, and french tall marigolds are best. In addition, plant parsley away from your tomatoes and the hornworms will be attracted to the parsley like bees to pollen. I have thousands of the hornworms on the parsley plants and it is very easy to flick them off into sudsy water. I think I got rid of most of them this year and the tomatoe plants produced thousands of tomatoes with no damage this year. If I had known about parsley last year, I wouldn't have lost my whole crop. Best wishes!!!!!


    They become the "precious great" pollinators HUMMINGBIRDS.

    Tomato hornworms... Do NOT

    Tomato hornworms... Do NOT like lavender or rosemary next to their food. We had a BAD infestation on out eggplant, but the tomatoes that were next to the rosemary and the lavender had none. BT works best when the critters are young.

    Diatomaceous earth is

    Diatomaceous earth is supposed to be effective. It must be dry to work. It is safe for bees, animals and humans. Dust it on the plants and soil.

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