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Aug 27 / Jeff

Guide to Pest Control – Tomato Hornworms

Gardening in the 110 degree weather is difficult enough. Throw in some pests and then it becomes frustrating. Very frustrating.

While venturing in my garden today, I immediately noticed some telltale signs of the tomato hornworm. The ground was littered with small dark green pellets, a.k.a. tomato hornworm poop. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Potential damage: Loss of leaves – These guys can easily defoliate plants in a matter of days. In other words, you won’t have any plants left when they’re done.

Method of control: Removal by hand – This is the most effective way to get rid of them. There are usually only a few to look for and they are relatively easy to spot. If you don’t like the idea of playing with insects, you can try sprays, but that won’t be as effective.

Annoying insect rating (scale of 1 to 10): 5 – While they can be quite devastating, they are very easy to control.

So now let’s talk about how to control them. The first thing to do is to look for the tomato hornworm poop. When you find it, look straight up in the plant and you will have the general area. In my tomato plants, I found some poop on the leaves, so I knew they were very close.

After about 10 seconds of scanning the plant, I found my first suspect:

For those of you who are color blind or visually impaired, look at the center of the picture and you can see the culprit from left to right. After scanning around some more, I found more poop.

I know it’s probably hard to see, but there are some pellets sitting on some of the leaves. Anyways, 20 seconds later, I found culprit #2:

This picture is a little better because you can see the missing leaves in the top right corner. That’s another good sign to look for. After spending about 5 minutes, I rounded up my catch:

These ones were pretty fat, which means they were probably enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet in my garden for the past week or so. Well, the buffet is closed now so it’s time to go home.

One Comment

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  1. Richard Reeves / Oct 10 2016

    I always wondered if the spine is dangerous, any idea? I was plagued with these a few years back and found that manual removal was not difficult and really helped keep numbers down.

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