The week before last I saw the first few Tomato Hornworms in our garden. I was able to take care of them pretty quickly by picking off the first two or three.
Today they came back with a vengeance. I found Hornworms all over our tomatoes. Here’s the first batch I “harvested” from the plants:
There are a few alternatives you can use to get rid of Hornworms these include spraying chemical or biological insecticides, applying insecticidal dusts or picking them off by hand, the method I prefer.
Whichever method you choose, do it quickly. They can grow from cute tiny caterpillars that hardly make a mark on a leaf to monsters like these in just a few days. Once they reach this size, they can literally devour an entire plant overnight.
If you decide to use the hand pick method, here’s a tip that will help you find them. Since Hornworms’ camouflage is so effective, they can be very difficult to detect. Go thorough your plants and pick off the ones you see right away. Then go do something else in another part of your garden for a while, even ten or twenty minutes will do. This gives your eyes a chance to “re-set”. When you come back to look for the worms, you can often spot the ones you missed the first time through.
It also helps to check them a couple times throughout the day. As the light changes, you may be able to spot the rest of them that are hiding.
In my first time through my plants I found this batch of worms. After about a half an hour, I found eight more in the same spots I looked at the first time around!
You may be wondering what I was going to do with a bowl full of Tomato Hornworms. I took them over to our chickens and tossed the worms in one at a time. This provides loads of entertainment for both the chickens and myself. The chickens like to play several games with the worms like “Chicken Football” and ” Chicken Rugby” and my favorite “Tug of War”.
To avoid a lot of disappointment, check those tomato plants as soon as you can… before you head out to the beach.