How to spot a tomato horn worm

Ohiofem(6a Ohio)August 3, 2011

I went out to my container garden with a camera because I finally have a lot of tomatoes ripening on the vine and I was ready to gloat. (That should have been a warning.) It had rained lightly over night and I noticed what looked like miniature blackberries on several of my tomatoes:

And then I realized it was frass -- that little gift the tomato horn worm leaves in his wake. Sure enough, on four of my plants, I found one of these guys:

Along with this 3-inch long monster, I found many stripped leaves with nothing left but the leaf veins. I didn't see any sign of these guys yesterday, and today they were half way to denuding my plants! So I picked them off and set them out in the middle of a two lane asphalt road as a treat for the birds.

My advice? If you spot one, look around for his buddies. These guys are voracious.

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wertach zone 7-B SC

If you find one with little white things sticking out of it don't kill it! Just move it a safe distance away. Then you will have help from mother nature!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 1:58PM
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jordanz(8A (Mojave Desert))

I just got done killing off dozen's of these stupid things last week. I was tired of manually killing them at night, so I through down some BT powder and haven't seen them since. Highly recommend you do that before they destroy your entire crop!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Edymnion(7a)

And if you don't mind stronger stuff, a good squirt of sevin will clear the problem up real fast (seriously, they'll be on the ground writhing in under 10-15 minutes).

When it comes to pests, I tend to be really lazy. Half an hour in the blazing summer sun prying those things off with pliers, or 5 minutes with a spray bottle? Yeah, I'll just wash my 'maters an extra time before I eat them. =P

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 7:19PM
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tommyr_gw

Man those things give me the willies. Got to get out my BT!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 1:21PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Beautiful picture of a nice, fat Tobacco Hornworm. A woman in another forum posted a cute photo essay on her experiment of cooking up a batch of fried green tomatoes and hornworms. Am not sure that I could nibble on a hornworm.

But I might cook up a batch of fried green 'maters for supper!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:04PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

They are easy to spot on the plant once you get use to seeing them. I take my garden shears and cut them in half! No money spent on chemicals or worrying about washing them off enough. Kinda of a sick pleasure to kill them before they kill my plant!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:11PM
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coffeehaus(7a Central VA)

Here's one that's been parasitized....
From Garden 2011

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 8:25PM
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greenthumbzdude

It would probably be helpful to plant some mountain mint near your tomato garden. Parasitic wasps are attracted to that type of mint. I have a small patch of it and it gets covered in parasitic wasps every year. Every hornworm I have ever came across had eggs on it. No longer have a problem with them ever since I planted a mountain mint.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:49PM
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sunsi(z5 NY)

I've never seen the big, green hornworm up here in Central NY but the other day I found one of these (see link). I guess these Tomato Fruitworms don't wait for a nice ripe tomato--he picked the biggest green tomato he could find and started chomping away. :(

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 5:56AM
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jludman(5)

I have the gutted corpse of something that looks like maybe when it was alive it was that green creature. It has exactly those white cones growing out of it. The exterior of a few of my tomatoes have been obviously eaten the last 2 or 3 days.

So, I should put this dead guy back into my garden so I can encourage more parasites?

Here is a link that might be useful: hornworm with parasites

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 2:30PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

So, I should put this dead guy back into my garden so I can encourage more parasites?

If (as it appears from the photos) the tops have been removed from all the cocoons, then there are no wasps remaining, so you can toss the caterpillar.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 2:41PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Bt makes me sick so be careful if you use that. I must be allergic to it; it is supposed to be harmless. I thought I had developed an allergy to tomatoes. Then I realized I can eat them early in the season. It was only after I sprayed that they made me sick. I always wash tomatoes before I eat them and if I have sprayed anything, I don't even eat the cherry tomatoes out in the garden. It took two years of getting sick to figure this out.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 4:35AM
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