Two evenings ago I noticed the tell-tale signs of tomato hornworms on my tomato plants. The most obvious sign was that some of the branches were stripped of their leaves which stood out because I visit my garden everyday. Closer examination also revealed a few small tomatoes that were munched on. Hornworms are a serious predator that cannot be ignored as they will do a lot of damage to the plants in a short period of time. We haven't had an infestation like this for three years.
The hornworms are huge and thick (up to 4 inches long and 1/2 inch thick). They can be tough to see because they have the same green colour as the tomato plants. Friday evening I picked off about sixteen and a further half dozen on Saturday morning. I use gloves when picking them off because they often excrete a green fluid as well .... just gross.
The most effective way to get rid of them is to pick them off. You can find them by closely searching the damaged areas of the plant. They like to hang upside-down on branches and leave small clumps of feces on leaves. I also noticed that they sometimes make a clicking sound (not sure why)....which led me to more than a couple of them. I will also check my pepper plants tomorrow.
|Tomato branch eaten by a hornworm. In the lower right corner of the photo you can see the guilty insect.|
|Feces from a tomato hornworm.|
|Friday night's harvest.|