Tomato Plant Pest Hornworm - 3 Tips to get Rid of Tomato Plant Pests

Getting rid of Hornworms

If your like me and you were looking forward to a good crop of tomato’s this year but kept finding holes in your tomatoes and leaves chewed to pieces I have a few tips that help you deal with the dreaded hornworms that are terrorizing your tomato plants.  

The hornworm is a large green caterpillar looking thing and is capable of destroying your entire tomato plant in a matter of days and those little guys can grow to be as fat as your fingers and I’ve seen some as long as 5 to 6 cm’s long.  

The hornworms are the larvae of a moth, so eventually when they have eaten enough will cocoon up and turn into moths. I believe hornworms are also known as tobacco hornworms aswell.

Tip #1 The manual method – involves quite tiresome work searching around for your plant to find those pesky little guys. The best way to find them is to look for a fresh pile of hornworm poo and look above it and they should be sitting there smiling. 

 This method is alright as I’ve tried it but because hornworms blend in so well with the tomato plant its hard work on your eyes trying to pick them off one by one.

 Tip #2  The next method is using a product called Dipel, Which is a natural caterpillar killer and is also organic so it will not hurt surrounding animals or fish. You simply spray dipel onto the leaves of your tomato plant and after the hornworms digest it. When the worms digest dipel they will cease feeding almost immediately and die within one to four days. 

Have tried dipel and works well only problem is when it rains it gets washed off and you do need to add quite a generous amount to the leaves for it to work effectively and this is also tiresome work. 

Tip # 3  A good old fashioned home remedy for hornworms is to sprinkle some flour onto the leaves of your tomato plant. Supposedly the worms will ingest the flour and it will expand in there stomach’s killing them.  

For me this didn’t work so well and I ended up making a smooth flour paste to put onto the leaves as the flour just kept getting blown off. 

Last Tip # By now you’re getting pretty sick of the hornworms but don’t fear if all the tips above did not work nature will take its course. You should start seeing some wasps flying around and as they are the natural predators of the hornworm its great news for you. 

 There are many different types of wasps but I have actually witnessed wasps taking away those little pests just this morning in fact, was a very pleasant site. Some wasps are also known to lay eggs inside the hornworm and as the eggs hatch the hornworm will be eaten alive (nasty).  So remember if you see a wasp nest or wasp hole in the ground please don't cover it up for the sake of your tomatoes.

So that’s it for hornworm pest control, good luck and I hope this year is a good harvest. Happy gardening 

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Comments 23 comments

Wallpaper Queen profile image

Wallpaper Queen 7 years ago from Malaysia

great tips on tomatoes pest! you can see this hub for tips and tricks in caring and growing your tomato plant.

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder Author

thanks for comment, nice hub too:)

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

I prefer the manual method but haven't had to do this but once. I also thought they were so hard to find that I probably missed some. Nice hub!

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder Author

Yea i enjoy doing it by hand and feeding those annoying things to my fish in the pond:)

DonnaLee 7 years ago

thanks for the tips! I found one of those bright green pests on my plants today. It's now resting in peace in the trash bin.Now I have some ideas about what to do next to save my plants.

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder Author

your welcome DonnaLee :) , hope your plants don't get overrun by those little guys, they usually come in groups

Anonomous 7 years ago

Before, a lot of our hornworms had those wasp cocoons on them, but now I don't see as many of those hornworms with those white balls on it. Did they die or something?

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder Author

Yea they have been eaten by the wasp larvae:)

Joann Barbero 7 years ago

The green worms i have on my tomato plants have many white larvae looking things all over its body that fall off when i remove the worm,,, Are these hornworms and are the white larvae common on them?

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder Author

I believe the white larvae are from the wasps doing there job, sounds like your worms are getting eaten slowly

Hud 6 years ago

How about diatomacious earth?

expectus profile image

expectus 6 years ago from Land Downunder Author

sounds interesting I will look into it a bit more seems to be more for feeding to animals to get rid of intestinal worms

Michelle 6 years ago

I just pulled them off and threw them in the field next door. The was a 3 days process to find them all. It has been almost two weeks and no sign of them and my plants are almost back to their previous size. I did also trim any stems that no longer had leaves to give the plant a fighting chance.

Tom 6 years ago

Can we eat tomatoes with hornworm holes?

CK 6 years ago

can u still eat the plants (tomatoes if u find hornworms on them????

expectus profile image

expectus 6 years ago from Land Downunder Author

yep its quite safe, they are just bugs so unless that worries you it should be fine to eat them

jenny 6 years ago

My catapillars are large and they are green but they have one yellow line on each side of the body and also some yellow hoops across the body but they are taking out my tomato plants frut and all

Maggie 5 years ago

Diatomacious earth is ground up fossils that makes small cuts in the waxy coating on the outer shells of insects. With the cuts that are made, the insects dehydrate and die. It is not an instant cure but it is organic and safe for use around pets and kids. It's wonderful for an on going internal preventative flea treatment on carpet, use under couches, furniture and along walls at the baseboards. Apply by shaking from a coffee can or jar with holes poked in the lid. There is no odor.

Rhonda 5 years ago

I found that planting basil among my plants keeps the moths away. No moths = no eggs = no hornworms. I've done this for a few years now and haven't had ANY hornworms.

nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 5 years ago from Southeast USA

Thanks for your hub I wrote one on my first organic garden and was recommended by a store to use neem oil for the bugs. Not sure if it will work . I will try suggestions next.

Libby 4 years ago

Where can I find Dipel?

CBou 4 years ago

Dipel is very common and can be found at about any nursery store for about 3.99. Very effective against horn-worms. I have it and lost 16 out of 24 tomato plants so far this year until I found Dipel.

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CBou 4 years ago

Another comment on hornworms. Physically kill them while they are young. You can find most of them 30 minutes before sunset. Most will be on the underside of the leaves but they could be also anywhere. So look carefully. Use Dipel. Next year plant basil every year with the tomato plants. Helps but not 100%.

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