Wondering How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms? Find out the most effective tips to fight those pesky pests in this informative article below!
If you are fed up with spotting large holes on your tomato foliage and want to bar those critters off your garden, learn How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms in the informative article below!
Avoid these mistakes to grow the best tomatoes ever
What are Tomato Hornworms?
Tomato hornworms are large green caterpillars that grow 3-5 inches in length with white V-shaped spots on their bodies and a black horn.
They camouflage under the leaves and feed on the foliage, making holes and sucking out the nutrition from the plants. These pests spread rapidly if not controlled and will munch on the nightshade plants, including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, in no time.
Find out 20 types of green caterpillars here
How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms?
1. Till the Soil
Hornworms are large caterpillars that overwinter themselves while in the pupae stage. In winter, tilling the soil will expose their soft bodies to the cold, eventually killing them before reaching the adult stage.
2. Attract Beneficial Insects
Insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps feed on most garden pests, including hornworms, aphids, ants, and spider mites.
Attract these beneficial insects by growing plants like marigolds, yarrow, and roses around your tomato plantation. You may also purchase these pests from online and local nurseries.
Check out the most beneficial pests for your garden here
3. Spray Natural Insecticides
Using natural insecticides is always an excellent alternative to chemical-based insecticides as they contain poisonous compounds that adversely affect the harvest, making them unfit for consumption.
Combine 1 tablespoon of neem oil and liquid dishwasher in a gallon of water and spray the solution directly on the worms. Insecticidal soap solution disrupts the cell membrane of these worms, keeping them away.
Learn how to make organic insecticidal soap here
4. Try Companion Planting
Companion planting is an effective way of repelling harmful pests from your garden. Grow plants such as basils, borage, chamomile, and marigold around your tomato garden that will improve the flavor of the fruits besides repelling these critters away.
Find out the best companion plants for tomatoes here
5. Handpick the Worms
Handpick the worms and put them in a bowl of soapy water. You may spray the plant with water first so that they move on disruption and become easier to spot.
Also, snip away the leaves on which these insects breed or lay eggs to keep the plant safe from future attacks.
6. Use Floating Row Covers
Shield your plants with floating row covers. This will keep the moths from reaching the plants in the first place, hence barring their risk of spreading around your garden.
7. Crop Rotation
Growing different crops every year disrupts the hornworms’ life cycle, breaking their food supply. The best option is to grow legume crops such as beans, lupine, and clover to avoid this pests problem.
Learn more about crop rotation here
8. Invite Birds to Your Garden
Invite natural predators such as birds to your garden by installing birdbaths or bird feeders and growing plenty of flowers near the tomato plantation. They will feed on these critters and their eggs, keeping your plants safe and healthy.
You can also leave chickens around the tomato plants and watch them munch on these unwanted critters.
Grow these plants to attract hummingbirds to your garden
9. Use Beneficial Nematodes
Using beneficial nematodes is a safer alternative to chemical pesticides. They will mix with the soil killing the pupating larvae, thus controlling their population.
Do follow the instructions on the label for the right dosage.
10. Diatomaceous Earth
Sprinkle a handful of food-grade diatomaceous earth around your tomato plants. As the hornworms smear in the powder, it dehydrates their soft bodies, barring them out.
Ensure to wear gloves and glasses while applying it around plants.
Learn about some helpful diatomaceous earth uses here
11. Cover the Soil
Cover the soil with black plastic or cardboard to prevent moths from reaching the plants. This will also prevent the worms from laying eggs or overwintering in the soil, breaking their life cycle.
12. Grow Trap Plants
Trap crops are grown away from the main plants you want to protect from pest attacks. Dill is a good option as the worms will prefer to munch on the dill leaves than on your tomatoes.
Grow the plant a little far, around your garden’s borders, for a safer option.
Find out the best companion herbs for tomatoes here
13. Use Oils
You can use a blend of different essential oils to get rid of the worms. Lavender and citrus oils work the best. To make them more potent, add a few drops of neem oil to the mix and spray it on them directly.
14. Insecticidal Soap
Mix insecticidal soap in the water and spray the solution directly on the worms. This will kill them in no time. You can also use dawn dish soap.
Learn about making organic insecticidal soap here
15. Grow Disease Resistant Varieties
Another natural way to get rid of these worms is to go for varieties that are disease resistant. Early Girl, Rutgers, Big Daddy, Sungold, Summer Girl, and Porterhouse are some of the best options.
However, do remember that they are not 100% protected against these worms.
16. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is also helpful when it comes to killing these worms. Sprinkle it directly on them as it will suffocate hornworms. You can also mix it with flour in equal parts and sprinkle it near where these worms frequent. They will feed on it and die.