Darlene T
Darlene T
  • Hometalker
  • Delray, WV
Asked on Jul 6, 2013

HELP!!! I have Tomato Horn Worms

DmrBoydPeggysue
+22

Answered

I have Tomato Horn Worms, and they were HUGH. Found about half a dozen on one poor little plant, it was almost stripped of leaves this morning. This is a "Jelly Bean Tomato" (grape tomato's) that are in a planter ON MY DECK. How in the world do they get on the plants and what can I use to keep them off/get rid of them
q help i have tomato horn worms, gardening, pest control
25 answers
  • Pam Ramsey Van Nocker
    on Jul 6, 2013

    I use seven dust on mine. I also sprinkle it on the dirt around the plants to deter any other critters from climbing them.

  • K.adams1955
    on Jul 6, 2013

    they are laid by a moth. hand pick them & drop in bucket of soapy water,

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jul 6, 2013

    Doing as K.adams suggests is probably the best strategy. Otherwise, Bt, a naturally occurring bacterium, is effective on caterpillars without affecting other beneficials in the garden.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 6, 2013

    Thank you, I did pick them off and threw them out in my yard, hoping the birds would eat them. But I may have to go find them and drop them into the soapy water! I'll let my husband know about the Bt... he want to dust/spray with seven dust, but I WOULD LIKE to go the more organic way if possible. We have had a really bad time with our gardens this year, if it's not '[early blight, chipmunks, rabbits, then it's tomato horn worms or other buggies.Oh, I read that the 'horn worm moth' is actually the Sphinx/Humming bird Moth. I haven't seen any of them around here, where do they lay the eggs??? I do have one other question, is it really a BAD thing to plant tomato's in the same spot as I planted them last year???

  • Judy Johnson Wilson
    on Jul 6, 2013

    Not bad, but not as good unless you add some new life to the soil. Tomatoes drain the sol of its nutrients and for new ones to grow as well as previous ones, they need fresh soil.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 6, 2013

    like top soil??? We did buy a few bags (only have 6 tomato plants this year. Where we live the "dirt" is mostly shale/slate (live in the Mountains of West Virginia) so I had to do a slightly raised garden bed. I did sprinkle with fertilizer before planting... but we've had SO MUCH rain this Summer, that just about everything is getting washed away. We also have ALKALINE well water, so last year we started collecting rain water to water the plants (we keep a large galvanized tub under the roof down spout... roof has shingles... will this hurt plants?) As you can probably tell, we are fairly NEW to the vegetable garden, just the last couple of years... I also get lonely that's why I have such big responses to thing...lol :-). I just love this site, reading everyone's ideas and helping (trying anyway) with others problems etc. WELL... thanks everyone for everything

  • Em Hooper
    on Jul 6, 2013

    The tomato hornworms turn into huge green moths. Beautiful. I have a plants I grow in the garden just for them. My eating tomatoes grow in a pot on the deck.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 6, 2013

    Em Hooper, I think you are wrong about the Luna Moth caterpillar.The Tomato Hornworm turn into a 'Humming Bird Moth/Sphinx Moth

  • Em Hooper
    on Jul 7, 2013

    D, Thanks for the correction. Appreciate your comment. Em

  • Laurie
    on Jul 7, 2013

    my arch nemesis the tomato horn worm! It's has been a very buggy summer here in north texas too and loads of horn worms. Look for the little ones too. If you want to treat for them organically, use Bt. It will take a while for it to work so keep picking the worms. Also, check with your county extension service or county master gardener site and they can let you know how often to spray in your area. I spray my tomatoes and eggplant but leave them have at my flowering tobacco. (There are tomato horn worms and tobacco horn worms but they both eat the same things.)

  • Lorraine
    on Jul 7, 2013

    I don't get very many horn worms on my tomato plants (I grow several plants in containers on my deck each yr), but when I see them I leave them be, because they are the prey of a small, beneficial wasp called the Braconid wasp [see photo and link]. Within a few days I usually see the wasp cocoons on them, and although I do feel a little sorry that they're being turned into zombie-worms, I tell myself that it's the Circle of Life...and I get to keep my tomatoes-heh, heh!

    q help i have tomato horn worms, gardening, pest control, Tomato Hornworm with Parasitic Wasps I tried to add the link several times but it won t come thru just go to About com or Google to find out more It s quite interesting
  • Judy Johnson Wilson
    on Jul 7, 2013

    Yes Darlene T. topsoil is a good start. But since you say you have soil issues, I would also throw in, a few bags of manure, a few bags of peat, and a few bags of miracle grow garden soil as well. If you get a good soil mix going now, in the years to follow you 1) won't have to replace so much soil and 2) will have a much better crop. Good Luck.

  • Sherrie
    on Jul 8, 2013

    All year long I throw compost on my garden and when it's ready to start planting I till it in we get it free at our recycling center and I have a compost bin. I also started using manure from the farmers. When its ready they get the word out. But you Extension Center should have a kit to test your soil. I would start there first.

  • Kathy
    on Jul 8, 2013

    My garden is completely organic. To help my tomato plants I add coffee grounds and dig a small trench near each plant and fill it with banana peels. There are some flowers maybe petunias or marigolds that deter horn worms.

  • Linda
    on Jul 8, 2013

    My Daddy always planted marigolds too Kathy, and crushed egg shells around the plants. Worms and slugs hate egg shells because it cuts their soft bellies, but don't let any branches touch the ground outside the egg ring. Good Luck!

  • Charly McOmber
    on Jul 8, 2013

    marigolds do help planted nearby as do garlic. The hornworms turn into beautiful butterflies but unfortunately they are voracious eaters. I handpick them off and drop them into a jar of sudsy water or alcohol.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 8, 2013

    I did plant Marigold all the way around my one garden... those tomatoes are the ones with 'early blight' we've had so much rain this year. The tomato plant that had the horn worms in in a container on my deck. My husband dusted it with Seven... I WOULD much rather go Organic... a friend of his that is an agriculturalist tells him what to use and my husband thinks this guy walks on water. At least I think I've talked him into using a Vinegar Weed killer recipe instead of the 'roundup' poison!... baby steps with him, And he is "letting" me have a compost this year (another friend, (not the "agro" guy) of his gave us a new compost bin to set up... yea)

  • Tobi Hoffman
    on Jul 11, 2013

    For future crops, another tactic for tomatoes not grown in pots is to use a tiller to turn the soil after the season is over and/or before planting next year. The caterpillars pupate in the soil, and this kills them before they emerge.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 11, 2013

    Thanks Tobi

  • Patti Nicholas
    on Jul 11, 2013

    I always, always, ALWAYS plant a marigold next to every tomato plant. I also sprinkle diatomaceous earth around any plant that I see a soft bellied bug on. In 25 years of gardening organically, I've only ever had 3 tomato hornworms, and that was the year I skimped on the marigolds.

  • Darlene T
    on Jul 11, 2013

    Thanks Patti, next year I will plant marigolds closer to each plant

  • Tracy Chamberlin
    on Jul 11, 2013

    Sprinkle your plants with cornmeal, or transplant the hornworms to milkweed. The worms turn into the very beautiful lunar moth. Always conflicted on trying to control these guys. Leave be and get lunar moths, or use cornmeal to destroy them?

  • Peggysue
    on Jul 16, 2013

    I pick the hornworms off with a pair of forceps and feed them to my chickens. They go nutz over them. When my plants are big enough that the chickens don't eat them (plants) I let them into the garden area to hunt for them. They follow me closely in case i find one before they do. They scratch the ground between the rows and around the plants for bugs and small weeds. To get them out of the garden when I leave I lure them with a wiggling bug!

  • Boyd
    on May 29, 2016

    Horn worms are larva of a moth.

  • Dmr
    on Aug 3, 2016

    I don't like to touch them so I clip off the leaf & worm into a bucket of hot soapy water. NEVER pick off any that have tiny white eggs on their backs. These eggs hatch and the larvae eat the worm. The larvae then become the wasp-like flying bug that will then lay eggs on more worms. After the eggs are on the tomato worm, the worm does not eat any more. Nature is so cool!

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