Hornworm! Help!

So I identified the little droppings on my leaves when I saw a half eaten leave and the 4 inch monster on it. Between my husband I, I think we got them all. Are there any natural solutions to prevent them from coming back or kill the ones we missed. The tomato plants are in large containers. Thanks!

I assume you mean Hornworms? The best way to deal with them is as you did, picking them by hand. Spray your plants thoroughly in the evening with water when you water the containers. The hornworms don’t like water and you can usually see them moving around. This makes them easier to find. If you still have problems in a week, you may have a large infestation in your area. But usually in containers you can control them easier. You can google safe, organic, leaf pesticides to spray on your leaves if hand picking them doesn’t work.

Did you fill your containers with garden soil? Or store bought topsoil or potting mix?


Here’s something interesting.

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Ages ago, I read a humorous piece on growing tomatoes, which said the way to know your plants have hornworms is when someone comes in from your garden wearing an expression of combined shock, horror, and disbelief. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::dragon::tomato:

That was me!!!

Thanks JMF! And yes, hornworm! Thanks for the info and the articles. I used organic Coast of Maine soil in my pots and Tomato Tone. I joe we got them all!

Put a birdbath near your tomatoes and keep it clean and filled so the birds will continue to use it. Never feed the birds and they’ll do the pest control for you.

We see birds fly out of our plants with hornworms and other various pests all the time. (The bird bath keeps them from pecking the tomatoes too.)


I like that idea - and they don’t eat the tomatoes?

Not if you give them a bird bath. The only reason they peck at tomatoes is to get moisture.

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Thanks. I am still so grossed out! I had nightmares last night!

I think I am having the same or a similar problem. So aggravated! First the kale, now the tomatoes. My husband will like the bird bath suggestion but until we get that going the worms will be munching on my tomatoes…:worried:

A friend was just up from Florida and suggested food grade diatomaceous earth

We have been plucking them off. I am so nauseous. Check out these tip and what JMF replied to me. BTW - chucking them into soapy water does not kill them fast enough for me.

Meanwhile, a pie pan or other shallow container of water should suffice.


I use the plastic bases you can buy to go under potted plants: heavy duty, easily cleaned, multiple sizes. And since they’re a hard plastic rather than metal they’re sturdy and don’t heat up like a disposable metal pie pan.

I don’t know why they gross you out so much. Yes, they ravage your plants, so you pluck em and drown them. But they are just caterpillars, maybe not the most attractive, but they grow up into very large, very cute Moths, that look kind of like hummingbirds, or teddy bears with wings…

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I will try to adopt this attitude!!! It sure made me laugh!!

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Great idea. It would have to be elevated - how close to the plants should it be?

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Birdbaths are elevated by tradition, not necessity. This provides a bit of security from predators but mainly it’s for ease of maintenance and viewing. Birds don’t require stemware! :wink:


I put an inverted plastic planter base on a little table next to the tomatoes. Should I put a song that says “Free hornworms?”

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