If you garden even with just a few plants, chances are you have to deal with some type of pest. Have you ever had to deal with hornworms?
How To Identify And Control Hornworms In The Garden
While there are tons of different garden pests and most of which only feed on select plants, this post is going to cover hornworms.
I will not only explain what they are, the types of plants they feed on but will also talk about natural ways to control and even prevent them.
Don’t worry I will not suggest the use of pesticides as I do not use them in my garden and would never suggest you use them in yours.
What Is It?
Hornworms are nothing more than one of the stages of the life of a moth. There are two different types. A tomato hornworm and a tobacco hornworm.
The adult names are Manduca quinquemaculata (aka five-spotted hawkmoth) for the tomato hornworm and Manduca sexta (aka Carolina sphinx moth and the tobacco hawk moth) for the tobacco hornworm.
Both types when in their caterpillar phase feed on the same plants such as Tomatoes, Eggplants, Bell Peppers, and Potatoes.
They can grow to be 4-5 inches long before changing to their pupa stage and then changing into moths.
How To Identify Tomato & Tobacco Hornworms:
If you have not spotted any of these pests in the garden and are wondering if you have them, there are a few things to look for.
Be on the lookout for missing leaves and branches at the tops of your plants. Or leaves with holes in them. While they can feed on any part of the plant, they typically start at the top.
The other thing to look for is droppings. Yes I know, that is super gross, but it is a way to know if you have an issue. Not that anyone really wants to look at a picture of poop, but I thought it would be helpful if you knew what to look for. So above is a picture of droppings from a tobacco hornworm.
To tell the difference of the type of hornworm you have in the garden you have to look at their markings. Not that it really matters as to what type you are dealing with as they eat the same plants and are controlled the same way for both types.
Tomato hornworms are normally bright green and will have 8 V-shaped white markings on their sides, with no borders on the edge of the white markings. They will also have either a black or dark blue horn.
The tobacco hornworms are also bright green and will have 7 white diagonal lines that have a black dotted border on one side. They will also have a red horn on their end.
How To Control Them In The Garden Naturally:
One of the best ways to control them in the garden without using pesticides is to simply pick them off. You can either relocate them somewhere far away from your garden or drop them in a pail of water to kill them.
Sounds like an easy enough way to control them, right? Well, it is except for the part of finding them! They blend in really well and can be really hard to spot.
The best time to find them is when they are most active/feeding. That is early morning or late evening. They tend to hide out in the middle of the day when it is the hottest.
There are things you can do to prevent getting them to start with. One of the best ways to do that is to do a little companion planting. There are a few plants that naturally repel these giant types of worms. Simply plant some basil, dill, or marigolds around the plants they feed on.
I personally have had the best luck with marigolds. Plus you get the extra bonus of having pretty flowers in the garden too. The one year I did not plant marigolds is the one and only year I had trouble with hornworms!
Looking for more gardening and pest control tips? Here are a few to check out.
- How To Keep Deer Out Of Garden
- How to Keep Pests Out Of Tomatoes
- Japanese Beetle (aka June Bug) How To Control Them
- How To Naturally Control Slugs And Snails
- DIY Worm Composting Bin – Plus Worm Compost Tips
- How To Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Garden
- How To Get Rid Of Aphids Naturally