Sphinx Moth – Tomato Horn-Worm

hornworm Hornworms can be found in your garden from early spring, eating your newly planted seedlings until late fall and your first light frost.
The caterpillars of the tobacco hornworn can be distinguished from the tomato hornworm by the color of the horns on their back ends. Tomato horn worm caterpillars have black horns, while the tobacco hornworm caterpillars have red horns.

Hornworms are known to eat various plants from the family Solanaceae, commonly attacking tomato, eggplant, pepper, tobacco, moonflowers and potato. Accordingly, they are often found on defoliated tomato plants, the caterpillar clinging to the underside of a branch near the trunk. They are difficult to spot due to their green coloration.

Some Gardeners say to use of a blacklight to find the hornworms on tomato plants at night, where they glow under the ultraviolet. They can be reduced by planting marigold flowers intermixed with your garden around desirable plants.
hornworm moth

If you see this Sphinx moth fluttering around an outdoor light, be assured it is up to no good. Killing this moth on sight may save your garden from being attack by hornworms.

Every time you are in your garden look carefully for caterpillar damage. Kill them on sight! Many gardeners drop them in a cup or can of soap water to drown, I prefer to grind them under the heel of my shoe.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Insect Diagnostic Laboratory – Cornell University

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5 responses to “Sphinx Moth – Tomato Horn-Worm

  1. We have a large number of these worms every year also. it is a constant battle once our plants start to put on fruit. I throw them against something hard so they can enjoy that sudden stop and end of there life. john tucker


  2. Our neighbor brought one over to show us last year what he found in his garden! He never saw anything like this before, so I looked it up. We kept it in a jar overnight with tons of tomato branches – – – all the branches were gone by morning! These things can eat! Check out the post I did on it last year too! http://nikitaland.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/gardeners-beware-this-horn-worm-will-destroy-your-tomatoes/


  3. When I was little my grandfather would let me go with him to his tomato field to help kill them. He would take a flashlight and a can of gas. Pick the worm off the plant and drop into the can. When we found all that we could, he would burn them. I swear you could hear them eating the plants.

    Now I pay $1.25 a piece for them to feed my bearded dragons.


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