Everything You Need To Know About Hornworm Caterpillars
If you have ever grown tomatoes, then you may have seen green-colored caterpillar pests. These are usually two main pest species, tobacco hornworms and tomato hornworms. These species can be found in southern Canada and various regions of the United States. These big, green insects can damage the tomato crop in no time. Not just that, but they feed on other plants in the nightshade family like tobacco, potatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants. Hornworm caterpillars blend easily with the green foliage and eat non-stop, while creating chewed and spotty fruits and leaves.
Hornworm caterpillars belong to the Sphingidae moth family. They are called hornworms due to their horn-like projections at the eighth abdominal segment’s end. These pests are known for their horns and large size than other species. Some, such as tobacco and tomato hornworms are the most common pests.
Hornworm caterpillars live according to a life cycle as follows:
How to Identify Hornworm Caterpillars
A tobacco hornworm caterpillar could be 5 inches in length, where you can be shocked while encountering one. It does the most destruction in the larval or caterpillar stage. It is a large green caterpillar with horn that stems from its rear. The caterpillar has eight stripes on the body in V shape. On the other hand, a tomato hornworm caterpillar comes from molted brown-gray moths.
The green caterpillar with horn blends incredibly well with the greenery of plants. You need to go for a regular patrol in order to find small caterpillars and hornworm eggs. Here are several cues of hornworm infestations:
Difference Between Tobacco and Tomato Hornworms
There are some species of hornworms, which inhabit North American gardens, such as tobacco hornworms and tomato hornworms. Both kinds feed on typical garden plants like eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Here’s how you can tell which caterpillar is which:
Damage Done by Tomato Hornworm
If you spot scarring on fruits, leaves with severe defoliation and large holes, devoured flowers, you may have tobacco or tomato hornworms. The fruit might be damaged by sunscald due to the reduced foliage cover.
How to Control Hornworm Caterpillars
Handpicking: It is a great tactic to control hornworms if you own a small garden or have the patience and time. Hornworm caterpillars cannot bite or sting. If you are nauseous about beating these big insects, you can drop them into soapy water.
Insecticides: If your garden area or the population of hornworms is too big, it is best to go with insecticides. Gardeners can choose organic ones, such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). This bacterium acts as a poison on several larval insects, but does not harm animals or other plants. To work effectively, caterpillars need to ingest it. So, you have to reapply to plant foliage after rain.
Insecticidal soaps: They are perfect for killing hornworm caterpillars. However, the pests should come in contact with this substance.
How to Prevent Hornworm Caterpillars
So, this is everything that you should know about hornworm caterpillars. The two most common species of hornworms are tomato hornworms and tobacco hornworms. You will most likely find these caterpillars on plants like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and tobacco. If you spot them in your garden, some amazing ways to get rid of these insects are handpicking, using insecticides, and insecticidal soaps. You can also prevent them from manifesting in your garden in different ways. Share this article with other garden lovers and share your valuable comments in the section given below!