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Tomato Horn Worms?

Posted by cassie6383 MA (My Page) on
Wed, May 30, 07 at 15:17

I have been having a bunch of luck with tomatoes for the last few years, but have been fighting this big nasty green worm, that I think is a hornworm, but not sure. Its a big fat green worm with a horn on its nose, and sometimes has little white babies (I think) attached to its back. First of all, is this a Horn worm, second what do I do? It seems like im killing them left and right all summer, and am fighting a losing battle, as they eat all the tomatoes, or leave half of it to rot...Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!! Thanks!!

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RE: Tomato Horn Worms?

It does sound like a hornworms, even though I've never had problems with them eating my fruit (maybe something else is eating the fruit, maybe not).

When it has white sacs on its back, those are the cocoons of parasitic Braconid wasp larvae--and you should not kill those worms. The wasps will kill the caterpillar as they feed on it and then hatch out to reproduce. If you kill that hornworm, you will be taking away natural hornworm predators that are only helping you. As long as they don't have the white eggs on their back, you're doing the right thing by removing them off the plant. You can feed them to birds or pets or whatever as long as you aren't spraying the plants with anything toxic.

Hornworms are the caterpillars of moths, two species in particular (Manduca quinquemaculata or M. sexta). You might want to consider what is attracting the moths to your garden at night, or look into natural predators. You can attract more Braconid wasps by growing small-flowered nectar plants, but you may be able to find them commercially as well. Another organic solution would be to buy BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) to spray or dust on the tomato leaves and fruit. The bacteria will kill any feeding caterpillars, but is otherwise safe.

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