‘Tis The Season – Tomato Hornworms (eek!)

tomato horn worms

If yesterday, your tomato plant looked healthy and lush…

tomato horn worms

and today, it’s gone, and you say “What the heck happened overnight?!?”

You’ve probably got tomato hornworms. You know, remember when those pretty white butterflies (or so you thought) were flying around your plants a couple of weeks ago?¬† Well, they weren’t butterflies, they were moths. They laid their eggs on your plants and when baby woke up, he was hungry and helped himself to your tomato leaves. Although they call them worms, they look like caterpillars.

tomato horn worms

How did I know they were there before I saw them? As I was about to water the plants, I saw the evidence. Black poop all over the ground beneath the plants. Hornworms are very difficult to spot since they are what they eat – the same color green of the leaves!

tomato horn worms

Here he is. You’ll find them on the underside of the leaf or stem. Almost always on the stem as they get bigger. They get big and fat very fast – they’re eating up your plant, almost overnight, after all. Left unchecked, you won’t have a plant in two or three days. They’re that aggressive.

So have no mercy! Take it off the stem carefully – they have about two dozen legs clinging to your plant. Throw it to the ground and squish it!! Green goop goes all over the place.

tomato horn worms

By the way, seldom do they come alone. Be on the lookout for brothers, sisters and other free-loading relatives. Keep up the watch. Inspect your plants every day this time of year.

Learn more on prevention here.

tagged in garden, rockaway, tomatoes