Defeat the Tomato Horn Worm

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If you are growing tomatoes, you are also going to be feeding tomato worms. Once you spot the damage getting started (stripped stems and chomped on green tomatoes), you need to patrol your garden at least once a day.

These little rascals are so beautifully camouflaged to be unrecognized in the tomato plot that finding them is a real chore. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Check early in the morning or in the early evening when there is no direct sun on the plants. The horn worm is more likely to be exposed and easier to spot.

  • If you have to check in the middle of the day, look underneath the leaves. The wiley worm is staying cool and shaded while the sun is blasting on the garden plants. He may be shaded, but he is still eating voraciously.

To enlist some help:

  1. Pay the kids of the family a head-hunter’s fee. Most young ones love this activity.

  2. Put out a watering bowl for birds. They will come for a drink and spot the worms more easily than you can. Don’t be concerned about your tomatoes. The birds would much rather feast on a horned worm than on your green zebra tomato.

To kill the worms:

  • Feed them to your chickens. This is the easiest method. Just think “food chain” and you will be alright.

  • If you are not squeamish, cut them with a pair of scissors as shown in the video we link to below.
  • If you are truly not squeamish, step on the worm and drop the remains into the compost.
  • Below is some good information on parasitized horn worms. This may not occur in your neck of the woods, but if it does, watch the video below for an effective response.

BOTTOM LINE: When tomato worm season starts, walk those trenches daily. The season is short but can completely eliminate your tomato garden if you take no action. Seize the day!

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