Poor tomatoes! Just when they thought they’d seen it all, a new scourge arrives. This time it’s the tobacco hornworm. It’s a big, fat, ugly, green worm with a voracious appetite. It strips a tomato plant of its leaves and will eat unripened fruit, too. The tobacco hornworm looks almost identical to the tomato hornworm except for a few subtleties in their markings and the color of their horn. The tobacco worm’s horn is red and the tomato worm’s horn is black. They both love tomato plants, but can be found on potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. They mature into big brown moths.
Although the worms are large, their green bodies and markings are excellent camouflage and they can be very difficult spot even when you are looking right at them. They dislike sunlight, so they are best spotted early in the morning or late in the evening and often on the underside of a stem. The best way to get rid of them is to pull them off and step on them or drop them into soapy water. They have a very squishy feel to them. They sort of “creep me out” to touch them, but if they are not removed quickly, the plant will be totally stripped within a couple of days.
Sevin (pesticide) is supposed to help prevent them. Planting marigolds around tomatoes is also supposed to prevent them and is a method that I plan to try next year.
Another unwelcome visitor who has arrived to eat tomatoes is the grasshopper. What the hornworm isn’t eating, the grasshoppers are. Poor tomatoes!