Hornworms on My Tomato Plants

Well, my little, isolated patio garden had been discovered by tomato hornworms. I removed 4 of them from one of my 3 cherry tomato plants today. In about 24 hours since the last watering, they have eaten half my Black Cherry plant.


  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,314 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I hate those things!!! I haven't had any so far this year but last year I was going outside in the dark with a homemade black light looking for them in the dark. They're much easier to spot and pick off that way.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    Did the wasps not come to kill them and lay eggs in them?

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think they do, but in the meantime my tomato plants are being destroyed. They are ravenous creatures.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle, West Plains, Missouri The way it works in a perfect world is that as they feed on the tomato plants the plants release a pheromone that attracts the parasitic wasp. The wasp then paralises the caterpillar and lays its eggs. The babies then eat it alive when they hatch (this is actually quite gruesome).

    I think you are supposed to pick them off and put them either in warm soapy water or feed them to your chickens?

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I used to have them in my garden down South. I picked them off by hand and crushed them unless they had clearly been parasitized by wasps. (You'll know if they have; the large wasp egg injections will be sticking out of their backs.)

    Tomato hornworms are very large, so they can do a lot of damage in 24 hours. It may be necessary to check for them more often so you can dispatch them promptly before they do damage.

    I have never seen a hornworn in Vermont, but they are probably here somewhere.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Those hornworms hang on with all those little legs too.

    Every time I hear the word "hornworm" my brain flashes back to the day when I put on heavy leather gloves to remove one from my tomato plant. I opened my hand to show my husband the monster; he looked at it, looked at me, and then quickly closed my fingers over the beast, crushing it to death. I think my mouth must have hung open in shock as I looked at my nice leather glove coated in bright green goo.

    There may be a psychological reason why I took a gardener's advice and just started cutting the beasts in half with pruning shears and leaving them on the plant? At the time it seemed easier to cut and leave them instead of trying to detach all those little feet from the plant.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I went away for the weekend and returned to find hornworm frass (scat, poop, excrement...) underneath the black cherry plant. I didn't find all of them I guess. The whole plant was cut into pieces, so I disposed of that one. Oddly enough, the other 2 tomatoes have been untouched.

    Here's what caterpillar frass looks like.