What Are Hornworms? How To Get Rid Of Tomato Hornworms?


The tomato hornworm, which lives all over North America, is one of the worst pests for tomatoes, potatoes, and pepper. They eat whole leaves, short stems, and sometimes small pieces of fruit. Even though hornworms are big, their camouflage coloring makes it hard to tell them apart.

Growers often find big areas where this garden pest has been feeding before they see it. Damage is often first seen in the middle of summer and lasts for the rest of the growing season.

Tomato hornworms are unfortunately common all over the continent, so you’ll probably run into them at some point. There are also a number of easy things you can do to keep these harmful bugs away from your tomato plants.

What Are Hornworms? Know More About Them!

The larvae of the five-spotted hawk moth, Manduca quinquemaculata, are called tomato hornworms. Vegetable growers fear it because it can kill plants in the nightshade. Which includes tomatoes and peppers. The adult form of the tomato hornworm is called a hawk moth or sphinx moth.

Hornworms are found in different kinds of plants, such as potato plants. They are also found in bell pepper plants, eggplant plants, and pepper plants. Sometimes jalapenos and tobacco plants are also affected by hornworms.

Identifying Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are about 3–4 inches long, you’ll find them in your garden. They are green with seven diagonal white stripes. They have black or red horns sticking out of the back.

The adults are huge, heavy-bodied beetles with thin front wings. Their wingspan is 4-5 inches. The back wings have alternating bands of light and dark colors. The sides of the abdomen are gray-brown with yellow patches.

Tomato Hornworms can hover like hummingbirds. They are also called sphinx worms, hawk worms, and hummingbird worms. The tomato hornworm will move around, showing where they are hiding. Tomato hornworms are most active at twilight. They come out to eat in the morning too. and They move around, so you can find them by spotlight.

A UV lamp is the best tool for finding tomato hornworms. When exposed to UV light, these insects glow. They make your plant look like it has lights on it. Also, look for stems that have some leaves missing and leaves that are wilted and hanging down.

The Damage Caused by Tomato Hornworms

Most gardeners will notice tomato hornworm symptoms before they see the larvae on their plants. The worms are hard to spot because their color matches the plant so well. Also, many hornworms have symptoms that are similar to those of other pests.

After eating all the plant parts, tomato hornworms leave big holes and empty spaces in the leaves of your plants. They hurt the plant by eating the leaves and possibly even making holes in the fruit. When many hornworms feed at the same time, they may eat so much plant foliage that the fruits get sunburned. Adult worms usually lay several eggs on a plant.

Preventive Measures To Get Rid Of Tomato Hornworms

Don’t get worried if you find a lot of tomato hornworms in your yard. You can get rid of them by doing the following preventive measures:

Pick hornworms from your plants

Due to their size, handpicking is the most common way to get rid of hornworms in private gardens. After they have been taken out of the plant. Then kill them by throwing them into a bucket of soapy water.

Bring in beneficial insects and animals that eat them.

Beneficial insects like green lacewings, braconid wasps, and ladybirds attack the eggs. For best results, pest populations should be low to medium when releases are made.

Investigate Natural insecticides

If there are a lot of them, use a natural insecticide that does the least harm and doesn’t last long. Then, release predatory insects to keep the problem under control.

You could also use a fast-acting organic pesticide to treat specific areas if the number of pests gets out of control. Apply it to the undersides of leaves and deep inside the plant canopy, where insects hide, for the best results.

Use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

Use bacillus thuringiensis spray for killing tomato hornworms. This spray will help gardeners to prevent their tomato plants from insects and it works well. Especially it works well against young hornworms.

Use Diatomaceous Earth

Use 100 percent organic diatomaceous earth for long-lasting protection. DE kills insects by cutting off their outer layer as they crawl over the fine powder, which is made up of tiny fossilized aquatic creatures that look like shattered glass when viewed through a microscope.

Rototilling the soil

By rototilling the soil after harvest, which has been there all winter can be removed. Rototilling are especially successful in this way because they are small and are only buried in a shallow layer of soil. Results show that regular garden tilling causes more than 90% of deaths.

Rotation of crop

Crop rotation is another way to control or get rid of hornworms in the garden without using chemicals. It can be a great way to get rid of them and reduce the number of pupae that will eventually turn into worms that lay eggs in the soil.

Using paired planting

Consider companion planting as a natural way to get rid of tomato hornworms. Basil makes tomatoes taste better and keeps hornworms from eating them. The number of hornworms is reduced by borage, which is a related companion plant. If you grow borage, pollinators and other helpful insects will come to your garden.


The tomato hornworm is one of the worst pests for tomatoes. If you plant tomatoes, you will have to deal with them. Even though they eat a lot and look scary, tomato hornworms are not impossible to get rid of. Tomato hornworms will be killed in natural ways. Protect your tomato plants from a variety of other dangers, making sure you have a good crop of tomatoes all summer.

You May Also Like