If you have found tomato hornworms in your vegetable garden, drop everything and start taking measures to get rid of these pests. You must treat this immediately because one pesky tomato hornworm can strip a plant of its leaves in just a few hours. Thus, imagine what more pests can do in your entire garden. Don’t know how to identify them? Well, I will get you through it in this article too. Thus, keep on reading and see the most effective 5 tips and tricks to get rid of tomato hornworms.
First off: How to spot the tomato hornworms?
If you think your tomatoes are starting to look bad, check them daily, for at least twice a day for chewed leaves. You can notice this chewing mostly on the meaty spots of the leaves so make sure you check them closely.
You can also spot the caterpillars themselves. Even if the tomato hornworms blend in very well with the plants’ leaves, you can definitely see them up close. Thus, check under the bottom sides of leaves, they like to hide there.
Moreover, check for any signs of hornworm droppings. These will be very noticeable because they look similar to tiny rabbit poo – small black or dark brown pellets.
Another method you can use to spot them is by spraying the plant with soapy water. This mixture will make the tomato hornworms to wiggle and convulse and you will see them clearly.
Tips and Tricks for Organic Tomato Hornworms Control
Now, you can definitely handpick the hornworms you find. However, these tips will make it easier for you in the long run:
1. Prevention before the tomato hornworms emerge
These are some tips you should do when you are preparing your vegetable garden for planting:
– when you are tilling the soil in the place you grew tomatoes last year, check for hornworm larvae. These look like little brown tubes. If you notice them, just handpick them and discard of them immediately.
– make sure you rotate the crops in your vegetable garden. That being said, plant tomatoes in different areas of your garden every year.
– you could use a black plastic mulch. When you are covering the soil with black plastic mulch, it won’t allow the moths to emerge in the spring and lay eggs on your plants.
2. Prepare a DIY homemade hornworms deterrent
Tomato hornworms hate the smell of this solution. Mix together garlic, cayenne powder, insecticidal soap, and water in your hose sprayer. This will help tremendously in controlling the hornworms from entering your vegetable garden. Then, attach the bottle sprayer to your water hose and spray your plants.
3. Attract natural predators
Invite natural predators such as mockingbirds and robins in your garden. You can do this by placing a couple bird feeders and bird baths around your vegetable garden.
4. You can use plants to create a diversion
Since tomatoes are highly cultivated and our favorite, you can actually plant some herbs such as dill to create a diversion. If you plant a big patch of dill on one end of your vegetable garden, these pests will go there. They love dill too so you will deter them from your precious tomatoes.
5. You should also try attracting parasitic wasps
The most known enemy of hornworms are the parasitic wasps. These will lay their eggs on the backs of tomato hornworms. Once the wasp eggs hatch, they will kill the hornworm for food.