Learn All About How To Get Rid Of Tomato Hornworm Eggs

Vegetable gardening is not something for people with a faint heart. You still have to care for your garden even after nurturing the tiny seedlings into vigorous, big food machines. Apart from the weather, wildlife also poses a great threat to home-based crops. Pests are a part of horticulture and shrewd gardeners could organically control most moochers effortlessly. But, some invaders cause so much damage quickly that they emerge into the mythical ground of lawn lore. For tomato lovers, a few pests loom bigger than tomato hornworm eggs.

This green caterpillar with white eggs eviscerates tomato plants rapidly, leaving you little time to intervene. Despite their well-earned notoriety, hornworms are pretty beatable if you know how to react and what to search for. So, here’s everything that you need to know to deal with tomato hornworm eggs.

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What are Tomato Hornworms?

If you have grown tomatoes, then there are chances that you have dealt with the green caterpillar pests. Mainly, there are two garden pest species, tobacco hornworms and tomato hornworms, which could be located in various regions of the United States and southern Canada. These species can ruin the tomato crop in no time. They feed on other crops in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family: tobacco, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These pests feed unstoppable and create chewed and spotty fruits and leaves. They blend in pretty easily with the green foliage.

tomato hornworm eggs

The Manduca quinquemaculata, tomato hornworm (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) does not reach usually economically damaging stages on commercial lawns. However, a large number of larvae could sporadically happen in home gardens. These hornworms feed just on solanaceous plants, primarily on tomatoes. These are various solanaceous weeds that serve as alternate hosts, such as jimsonweed, nightshade, and horsenettle.

Tomato hornworms reside as per the life cycle as follows:

  • In late spring, big adult moths lay hornworm eggs on the foliage’s undersides, which hatches within just a week. These adult moths are simply recognizable and they are commonly known as hummingbird or sphinx moths.
  • Later, caterpillar larvae hatch and then, feed for 4 to 6 weeks before making a cocoon, overwintering in the pupal position in the soil. In case, the weather is pretty warm, larvae might just only burrow for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • In the spring, moths are going to emerge and lay eggs again. In warmer weather conditions, it is possible to have more than a single generation a year.

How to Recognize Tomato Hornworms?

Tomato hornworms could be 5 inches long, which can come as a shock when you first see them. They damage at the stage of larval or caterpillar. These pests are pale green with black and white markings, along with a horn-like lump stemming from the rear. However, they do not bite or sting. The caterpillar has eight V-shaped stripes on the green body. Hornworms come from a blotchy brown-gray moth. Watch this video to know more about tomato hornworms.

The caterpillar blends in well with the plant greenery. So, you need to look out for hornworm eggs and caterpillar on your daily patrol. Here are cues of pest infestations:

  • Tomato hornworms start feeding on the plant’s top. So, look for missing or chewed leaves.
  • Look at the top of the tomato leaves for black or dark green dropping left by the caterpillar feeding on them. Next, look at the leaves’ underside and you will most likely come across a hornworm.
  • Find stems missing several leaves and wilted leaves dropping down. You might discover white cocoons and the hornworm hosts close by.

How to Eliminate Tomato Hornworms?

  • Handpicking: It is an impressive tactic to control hornworms in small gardens if you have the patience and time. There is no such thing as tomato hornworm poisonous and they never bite or sting. In case, you are nauseous about crushing large insects, drop all into soapy water.
  • If the population of tomato hornwormis large, then insecticides could be effective. This needs to be your last resort. One can employ organic pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt), a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison for larval insects but does not harm other animals or plants. Bt should be ingested by these caterpillars to prove effective and reapplied to plant foliage once rain. You can check the local Cooperative Extensive about the approved insecticides for your area.
  • Insecticidal soaps also kill tomato hornworms. However, the pests require to come in direct contact with these soaps.

How to Prevent Tomato Hornworms?

  • At the beginning and closure of every gardening season, till soil for destroying overwintering larvae. This has proven to cause about 90% mortality.
  • Keep a number of tomato hornworm wasp around. There are beneficial insects that feed on tomato hornworms and thus, emerge as the biological control. Gardeners might see tomato hornworms attached with parasitic wasp larvae, which looks like rice grains. The attacked hornworms continue feeding for a while but soon succumb to the hitchhikers. So, it is advisable to leave them as it is and let the wasp carry out the life cycle. Or get rid of the infected tomato hornworms and place the same away from the garden. In this way, the wasps will do the job, but the tomato hornworm would not damage the crops.
  • For keeping tomato hornworms away from the tomato plants next season, try interplanting basil or marigolds as a great companion plant.

Conclusion

Now, you know what tomato hornworm eggs are and how you can prevent them from damaging your tomato plants. The best way to prevent hornworms is to till the soil at the starting and ending of each gardening season. Or else, use beneficial insects to get rid of them. You can also try interplanting to control tomato hornworms. Share the article with other garden lovers who may find it useful. If you have any queries, post them in the comment section below!

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