Time to Scout Your Tomatoes for Hornworms

Find them when they are little before they do big damage!

Tomato hornworms are voracious feeders and older larvae can do quite a bit of damage to tomatoes and related crops. These older larvae are easy to identify by the stripes on their sides and their characteristic horn at their tail-end, but you may also see signs of feeding and conspicous piles of "frass" (aka insect poop).

Best practice for control is physical removal. Finding young larvae is key to avoiding crop damage. The caterpillars are smaller (and so are their poops) but they still have that characteristic horn. Products containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) labeled for caterpillars are effective on this pest, but only when they are young.

Do you see those little hornworm frass pellets below the leaf with chewing holes in it? Photo: Sadie McCracken, UNH

Look under leaves to find young caterpillars...like this little cutie! Photo: Sadie McCracken, UNH