Hornworms-The Big Green Monster

Hornworms-The Big Green Monster

I went out to my garden to find one of my tomato plants, "4th of July" variety, had only the three tomatoes on it!  All the leaves were gone...over night!  What caused it?  Hornworms!   Have you noticed those pesky hornworms wreaking havoc on your plants? Fear not, there are natural ways to combat these pests and protect your precious plants!

What plants do hornworms affect?

Hornworms are known to target a variety of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. These voracious eaters can strip your plants of leaves and fruits, causing significant damage to your garden.

How to spot a hornworm?

Hornworm hiding on a tomato plant.

Hornworms can be hard to spot.  They blend in with the plants and are most active at night.  The best way I have found is to look for the droppings from them and then look up the plant for the worm.  The droppings are dark green or black and resemble clumps of coffee grounds. 

Another way to hunt them is at night with a black light.  They glow!  


How can you naturally combat hornworms?

  • One effective way to control hornworm populations is by encouraging natural predators, such as birds, wasps, and ladybugs, to visit your garden. These beneficial insects will help keep the hornworm population in check.
  • Another natural method is to handpick the hornworms off your plants. Simply search for the caterpillars on the underside of leaves and remove them by hand. This method may take some time and effort, but it can be an effective way to control the infestation.
  • You can also introduce plants that repel hornworms, such as marigolds, basil, and mint, into your garden. These plants emit scents that deter hornworms and other pests, helping to protect your crops.  (I haven't had a problem with hornworms on the tomato plants that are surrounded with marigolds, or my peppers planted with basil.)
Hornworm with parasitic wasp eggs

Nature taking it's course. Cocoons of the parasitic wasp. Eventually it will kill the hornworm. If you find these in your garden, leave them alone. 

By implementing these natural methods, you can effectively combat hornworms and protect your plants without the use of harmful chemicals. So next time you spot these pests in your garden, remember that there are eco-friendly ways to deal with them!

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