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Tomato Pests: Not from a deer - but what is this thing?

by Dennis N.
(Smith Station, VA)

Hi Tomato Dirt,

When i first saw the damage on my tomato plant I thought a deer had done some nibbling. But pretty soon I found a really BIG worm on the plant.

Don't know what it is. It has a big stinger on the end. It's green with white stripes.

Thanks for any help on this,

P.S. By the way, this thing is over 2" long.

You've got a hornworm munching on your tomato plants.

Specifically, it's a tobacco hornworm (although it's closely related to the tomato hornworm). Both can do considerable damage to your plants.

Tobacco hornworms are green caterpillars, about 2-4 inches long, with white diagonal stripes and a red horn at one end.

In contrast, tomato hornworms (while also green and about the same size), have V-shaped white markings. Their horns are black, dark green, or dark blue.

Both kinds of hornworms will make quick work of your tomato plants. Best advice: get out in your garden at once. Pick them off your plants, remove them to a different location and SQUISH them. (If you're squeamish, just drop them in soapy water to drown them.)

You'll have to look carefully, though. Hornworms hide on the undersides of leaves. They're easiest to find at dawn or dusk.

Good luck and may you have successful picking!

Your friends at Tomato Dirt

Comments for Tomato Pests: Not from a deer - but what is this thing?

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May 11, 2013
by: Trish S.

I had a few of these on my plants last year, they are hard to see bc they do stay under the leaf or backside of the stalk. I removed them to a park because they turn into a moth so I wouldn't kill it, it is still in it's formation process, place it away from your garden under a good shade tree like a Pine. Yes Borage works too. the mouth can open completely over the young budding tomatoes, cool to watch but it was his last meal here. Google the Hornworm and you will see it's life stages. Trish

Jun 27, 2011
tomato pests
by: Anonymous

I have had many problems with tomato worms, bugs etc so I started with companion planting and found that if you plant borage - 1 plant for 6 tomato plants - it keeps the worms away from your tomato plants. Borage also helps with the nitrogen that your tomatoes need. That's just from my experience.

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