Ellen’s Gory Tip for Getting Rid of Tomato Hornworms

Both of these specimens (tomato hornworm and the moth it becomes) were collected from the tomatoes on my straw bale garden. Notice how the hornworm is happily chomping on the tomato leaves? These creatures are making their presence known in the garden now.

You will know you have them on your tomatoes if you see denuded stems and lots of droppings that look like peppercorns. These guys can be three inches long and they have gripping “feet” that cling when you try to pull them off. I have found it easier to take a pair of scissors and cut them in half. Gory but effective and fast.

The hornworm can destroy your tomato plants and will eat the tomatoes as well.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by CGFA Web Cultivator on July 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Some Gardeners have reported seeing white “eggs” on hornworms in the garden. That is good news according to Ellen Karelitz. Here is what she says about them:

    Those white rice shaped things all over the tomato hornworm aren’t eggs they are actually the cocoons of a small parasitic wasp. It is a natural predator of the tomato hornworm. A tiny beneficial insect called the braconid wasp, this wasp lays its eggs inside the hornworm. They hatch and feed on the inside of the worm until the wasps are near maturity, when it forms those white cocoons. The cocoons pop open and another wasp emerges. Then the process starts over again. If you see a hornworm with the cocoons on it, don’t kill it. You may still lose some leaves from your plant, but the benefit of letting the wasps emerge outweighs that loss. Thanks to our vigilant gardeners for letting us know about this natural predator.

    Click on the link to see a picture of a hornworm with braconid wasp cocoons.


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