How To Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms. (Stop Them in Their Tracks)

tomato hornworm

Tomato hornworms are very destructive pests. For this reason, there is always a need to find a way of driving them out of your farm. In this blog post, I will be sharing proven strategies for getting rid of tomato hornworms and literally stopping them in their tracks.

Tomato hornworms are the larvae of the beautiful sphinx moth. Do not allow their beauty to deceive you; these moths have the potential of causing massive destruction to your tomato crop. So how exactly can you get rid of these worms? Is it possible to prevent them from causing losses for you? Luckily, preventing and getting rid of them is an utmost possibility.

Have you noticed some holes in the leaves, fruits, and stems of your tomato plants? Have you found some brown droppings on your garden plants? If the answer to these questions is yes, your observations may indicate the presence of tomato hornworms.

In most cases, the effects of the tomato hornworm become evident first before you see it. This is because its green color helps it camouflage with the color of your tomato plants.

It would help if you took immediate action the moment you spot them to curb the problem from spreading to all your tomato plants.

You can opt for natural ways like picking them by hand when you spot them on the farm, tilling your soil to destroy them before they hatch, or interplanting your tomato plants with other crops that repel or trap the tomato hornworms. It is possible to adapt some biological ways to control them too.

Getting natural predators and beneficial insects like ladybugs, braconid wasps, or green lacewings will prove to be a helpful strategy.

These insects will feed on the tomato hornworms hence get rid of them. Going for organic insecticides to control the worms is another good alternative. They are a safe way to kill the tomato hornworms without poisoning the crops.

We urge you to continue reading this post for further details on the best methods you can adapt to get rid of destructive tomato hornworms.

Natural Ways of Getting Rid of Tomato Hornworms

Nothing beats the safety and convenience of adopting a natural way as a preventive and control measure against pests. For tomato hornworms, here are some proven natural ways of doing away with them:

Hand-picking to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

I shudder at the thought of touching these worms by hand, but this is the most natural way of getting rid of them. I recommend you look through your tomato plants at least two to three times a day.

It would help if you searched very keenly for the tomato hornworms considering they can hide so well. Once you spot them, pick them by hand and dispose of them far away to limit the chances of them returning to your farm.

Tilling to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

The pupae of tomato hornworms have the characteristic of hiding underneath the soil before hatching into an adult. I recommend that you dig through your soil. This will help in destroying the pupae before they can hatch and begin their destructive activities.

Interplanting to get rid of Tomato Hornworms

Going for the option of interplanting your tomato crops with beneficial companions is a good solution if you wish to get rid of tomato hornworms.

Some plants naturally repel tomato hornworms and will prevent them from laying their eggs on tomato plants. Some examples of great crops you can interplant with your tomato plants are basil, wildflowers, dill, chamomile, borage, nasturtiums, etc.

Planting trap crops to get rid of Tomato Hornworms

Planting trap crops at a safe distance is a great choice. These trap crops will attract pests away from the garden. A great option would be the flower tobacco plants. It’s been proven that tomato hornworms cannot resist it. They, therefore, will be attracted to the flower tobacco plants and leave your tomato plants to thrive.

Crop rotation to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

Changing the location of your tomato plants will help shift them away from a location infested with tomato hornworms. Ensure they are far enough to prevent the worms from crawling back to the crop.

Biological Ways of Getting Rid of Tomato Hornworms

When it comes to preventing and controlling tomato hornworms, certain insects and plants are beneficial in this process. They include:

Marigolds to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms


Planting marigolds around tomatoes is a good strategy. Tomato hornworms dislike the smell of marigolds. They will therefore be driven away with this. It is essential to note that the best types of marigolds guaranteed to yield are the pot marigold and the tagetes marigold.

Ladybugs to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

These insects feed on the larva of the hornworm eggs that are found on the plant. They’ll get rid of the tomato hornworms by eating a lot of the hornworm larva.

It is estimated that they can eat up to 50 larvae a day. They can be purchased online to help stop tomato hornworms in their tracks before they begin the destruction.

It is recommended that they be released at night to limit their chances of flying away.

Green Lacewings to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

These insects also work the same way ladybugs do. They will feed heavily on the larva of the hornworm. It is estimated that green lacewings can feed on over 200 garden pests or eggs in one week. If you intend to get them, you can purchase the lacewing eggs.

Parasitic Wasps to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

Some wasps do a fantastic job when it comes to controlling the tomato hornworm. The braconid wasp and Trichogramma wasp are some excellent examples.

These parasitic wasps will sting the tomato hornworm and lay eggs inside its body. The wasp eggs will hatch under the skin of the hornworm and feed on it from the inside. They will eventually kill it and emerge outside to begin the cycle afresh.

And the good news is that they’ll keep increasing in number, and the helpful insects will continue to get rid of the tomato hornworms in your garden.

Organic Insecticides to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

Organic insecticides prepared using natural ingredients are a safe choice for getting rid of tomato hornworms on your farm. In cases where the area in your garden is too large, the hornworm population is huge, and other natural or biological methods are not working, I will advise you to resort to this. Let me expound on the options available:

Botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is an organic insecticide that is safe, considering it will not harm other plants or animals within the area. It will act as a stomach poison against some larval insects, with tomato hornworms being one of those insects. To get rid of the tomato hornworms with this insecticide, you must make sure they ingest it. Check out current prices on Amazon here

Also, ensure you reapply for this insecticide after rain because the chances of being washed away during the downpour are high.

Soap Spray to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is an organic insecticide that you can make as DIY at home. To make a soap spray, you will need to mix a little liquid soap with water. You can then pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray it to the infected parts of your tomato plants in the evening or early in the morning. This is an effective way of controlling tomato hornworms.

Neem Oil Spray to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

The oil derived from the seeds of the neem tree has been proven to be a powerful natural insecticide. It can interfere with the life cycle of tomato hornworms during the different stages, such as the egg, larvae, or adult. It can also act as an antifeedant, stopping insects from feeding on leaves and other plant parts.

You can easily find the neem oil in stores and food markets. Follow the instructions on the bottle to understand how to mix things up and create an insecticide.

Garden Dust Insecticide by Safer Brand to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is a safe insecticide that has been approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI). Once you spray it on your tomato plants, the tomato hornworms will ingest it and stop eating after several hours.

Within few days, they will die, and we would have succeeded in getting rid of them. The good thing about this insecticide is that it is safe for other beneficial insects.

The Monterey Garden Insect Spray to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is my personal favorite insecticide because it is made through the fermentation of a naturally occurring soil bacterium.

What’s more, it has also been approved by OMRI. It is an easy-to-mix concentrate that has the ability to control worms and caterpillars that have the intention of destroying fruits and vegetables.

This is your go-to solution if you intend to get rid of tomato hornworms.

Sevin Insect Killer to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is another effective, non-systemic solution. This implies that it does not penetrate plant or vegetable tissues. Instead, it remains on the surface and kills the tomato hornworms that come to contact with it. To get to know the recommended intervals for application, read through the instructions on the label.

Organic Dust to getting rid of Tomato Hornworms

This is a safe insecticide that is pyrethrin-based. It has the ability to get rid of numerous pests, tomato hornworms included. It can be used to lure, repel or trap the pests before killing them. It kills pests using the dehydration method.

It works very fast, taking around 12 hours to get rid of the problem entirely. Additionally, this insecticide can remain effective on your farm for up to one year. Therefore you are not obligated to make frequent applications.

Hornworms can play havoc with your tomato plants. But there are so many other pests and diseases to worry about. That is why I made the video below to help you understand what is going on with your tomato plants and how to sort out the issues. Check it out.

Conclusion on how to get rid of Tomato Hornworms

It feels great to have shared with you numerous alternative methods for getting rid of tomato hornworms. Just like me, if you are into vegetable gardening, the chances are high that you have encountered this destructive pest.

With the natural methods, I have shared, like tilling your garden, crop rotation, picking them by hand, interplanting, or including trap crops, you now have effective ways of getting rid of tomato hornworms.

Moreover, alternatives are available in using biological methods such as marigolds that chase away the tomato hornworms with their smell, ladybugs, green lacewings, and parasitic worms that eat them away and totally wipe their existence.

And if all else fails, you can resort to using organic insecticides that are both safe and effective. We have learned some good options that you can make right at home or buy from a nearby store. Say goodbye to the devastating tomato hornworms by using the methods shared here and start delighting in a healthy tomato crop.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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