Garden Pest: Tomato Hornworms


As I mentioned on my “Garden Season of 2011” post, I was doubting if I’d even put out a garden this year – especially since I was moving, in between two houses, getting a late start, etc.

Well, I ended up planting a corn field over at the other place I left that was for sale, and a small tomato patch at the new house.  Last year, the biggest garden pest I had was Japanese Beetles.  Those pesky little beetles were eating the corn silks and part of the ears last year, but I planted my corn later this year and, for whatever reason, I didn’t have a problem with ’em this particular growing season.  Actually, I figured they would be the type of garden pest that would get worse each year until I totally moved my crop to a different area.  Anyway……

This year, and for the first time in my gardening career, I have had problems with my tomato plants.  I’ve heard of cutworms or whatever, but I’ve never had dealings with Tomato Hornworms before!  Those bastards can really do some damage, as they are some serious freakin’ gluts!  Look below, for a couple pictures of those fat, green caterpillars with horns:



Yeah, they are fat, green, and have a red horn sticking out – near their bunghole region.  Of course, a lot of people may be looking for the “how to remove” advice, but I’m going to keep it short.  Personally, other than the enjoyment of working in a garden, I mainly grow the food I plant to have organic produce from fertile soil that, in return, has a  full, rich flavor that you can’t find at your common grocery stores.  So, I manually remove these garden pests when possible and go ahead and accept the fact that some of my yield goes to the insects and animals, etc.  But what is left, will be totally organic.

Now, if you are a big fan of insecticides and poisonous sprays, I recommend that you get one that is especially formulated for caterpillars – if Tomato Hornworms are your problem.

These green, hungry devils eat like crazy; they eat the tomatoes and the plant itself.  It often looks like somebody went by and trimmed your plant with scissors.  However, they are not cutworms, but similar; cutworms usually cut your plant off close to the base.  To rid yourself of them, it is good to not let the weeds build up around your plants, which act as a breeding ground, till the ground as often as needed, and to place tin foil, cardboard, etc., around the base of your tomato plants.  Of course, there is insecticide for cutworms, as well; I just try to steer clear from poisons and chemical sprays.  Hell, if I wanted my garden to be full of chemicals, I’d just not ever plant anything and would buy all my produce at the local market.

Well, I mainly wanted to do a quick post over the Tomato Hornworm in case people are out there searching online using phrases like “these damn green worms are in my garden and eating my tomato plants,” etc.  If I would have kept a check on my tomato patch more often, I could have removed them quicker and less damage would have occurred.

At any rate, good luck with your crops!  Cheers!

Update:  Due to a special request/question in the comment field, below is a picture of what the Tomato Hornworms ultimately turn into, which is a Five-spotted Hawk Moth:


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