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Another garden pest that has really given me a hard time is the tomato hornworm. This guy packs a big appetite, once full-grown they can eat an entire tomato plant overnight.
Tomato hornworms eat more plants than their name leads you to believe.
They also love to eat my pepper and eggplant and sometimes other plants that belong to the nightshade family. Some people don’t have much trouble from this common garden pest but here in southwest Missouri, it’s a yearly battle.
Identifying tomato hornworms
These little garden pests are superb at blending in making them hard to spot. A green with a white V-shaped marking along the sides and a horn on its butt.
My first year dealing with tomato hornworms I found two pepper plants completely stripped of their leaves and all these black pellets all over the ground. After a little research on google and a lot of hunting, I finally found this huge worm. This was the beginning of the worm war as my husband and kids like to call it LOL.
Naturally Controlling Tomato Worms.
I have found keeping a handle on these worms to be quite the challenge just because we always have what seems like thousands just overnight, but I do have a few ways I like to keep these pests at bay.
I hate touching these little suckers I know you’re thinking now wait, a little worm and it grosses you out but hear me out on this. They make this loud clicking noise as a defense, and they also release this green slime like stuff when you squeeze them. That’s the part I hate….sorry this girl is not a fan of slime. However, my chickens love them as a tasty snack, if you don’t have chickens you can just drop them in a can of soapy water. I’ll be adding a blacklight to my arsenal to help find them after getting the tip from another gardener.
An ounce of prevention will go along way with keeping the hornworms away. I have used Neem Oil for the past few years and it does keep them away as long as I stay up on keeping it applied. It leaves a nasty taste on the plants that the worms don’t like, so they move onto something else.
Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only) seemed to work but it took some time. Maybe if you had it already spread before they started hatching you would see faster and better results.
Beneficial insects like lacewings, braconid wasps and ladybugs eat the eggs of hornworms. Try releasing them when before you’re overrun with hornworms.
If you find yourself overran with hornworms you can use a spray that is considered safe to use for organics Monterery B. T. I haven’t used this as of the time I’m writing this but I did order some to test out.
My plan for this year.
I plan to keep diatomaceous earth spread at the base of the plants and neem oil applied regularly. This might seem like overkill, but we also were hit extremely hard by blister beetles last year and I expect them to be an issue again this year.
Hopefully, this will keep both garden pests to a minim if not I plan to test out the B. T spray. Sorry not sorry I’m tired of sharing my maters so these worms got to go.
What garden pest have you battled with over the years? Let me know if you have any tips for dealing with garden pests naturally.