Tomato Hornworms in the Garden


Tomato hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata, are destructive caterpillars that will defoliate a plant very quickly and decimate your tomatoes. They also like to devour peppers, potatoes and eggplants.

They are surprisingly good at hiding in plain sight. You will need to be a detective and look for the following clues: black turds, defoliation of the tender top leaves, holes in tomatoes and a green caterpillar that is both fascinating and disgusting at the same same.

Usually there are many turds on a leaf or on the ground. If you see this, start looking for the hornworms, which can be up to four-inches long. They are called hornworms because they have a black “horn” on the last abdominal segment.

Handpick hornworms from infested plants and remove them from the garden.

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