Got Hornworms?

5ca0077e8ef6b got hornworms
Got Hornworms?

Tomato Horn Worms are pretty cool looking, but if you see one in your garden, be aware that a single hornworm can decimate and tomato plant within HOURS. Here’s a simple way to get rid of them . . .got-hornworms

You might not even be sure what’s eating your tomato plants, at first glance, it may seem like deer or rabbits have eaten them because the leaves and stems are completely gone! After all, how can such a little critter create so much damage?

But these aren’t ordinary caterpillars, they’re Tomato Horn Worms, otherwise known as Manduca Quinquemaculata. It’s the larval stage of the Five-Spotted Hawkmoth.
Here are few telltale signs you have Hornworms:

If your plant looks like it’s been eaten off by a large animal, leaves, and stems are missing overnight, or if it looks like someones been using a weed-wacker on it.

If there are greenish or black droppings on leaves. This is the remains of what used to be your beautiful healthy tomato plant.


The absolute easiest way to ensure that you get rid of all the tomato hornworms in your garden is to wait until dusk. Once darkness settles upon your garden, grab a blacklight flaslight, slip on a pair of gloves (if you don’t like touching bugs), and head to the garden.

Shine the black light starting at the top of each plant and work your way down, plucking off the hornworms into a bucket. The hornworms will GLOW brightly under the light, giving away their location immediately.

You can get a hand held black light for about $10 onlineor at Walmart, lowes, etc. (By the way, once you’ve gotten rid of the hornworms, let the kids use the blacklight to blow Glow in the Dark bubbles in the backyard!)

If you try to just pull them off during the day, you’ll more than likely find them near the tops of your plants. You will also likely miss more than half of the worms because of their ability to blend in well with their surroundings.

Here is what we found on just three of our (10) plants:


Now, what you do with the hornworms is entirely up to you, personally, I thought they’d make great “treats” for our chickens, but you can drown them, squish them, or let them go somewhere else far, far away from your garden. My husband prefers to go Catfishing with them!



What’s your favorite way to get rid of tomato hornworms?

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About Liss 4213 Articles
Melissa Burnell, known to her friends and fans as "Liss," grew up in Southern Maine, now residing in sunny South Carolina. As a busy Wife, Mother of two sons, an avid photographer, and self-employed entrepreneur, Liss understands the value of both time and money.


  1. On a sunny day I sift flour on the plants. They don’t like that at all and they fall to the ground. Then I put them in buckets and feed the birds with them.

  2. How to get rid of Tomato Worms?
    My dad did it the “Italian Style”. He use to cut off the section or small part of the branch that it was on and roll them up in newspaper. He would either put them in a metal pail or our backyard fireplace.

    He would just set it on fire and have us kids watch as he did it and said that he was “Roasting it”! That is a true story! I think about it and chuckle.

    We use to even get a kick out of it too! You talk about old fashion? That was back in the early 1950’s.

    It did work too!

  3. My chickens pick off the horn worms on the lower leaves. We have a family of mocking birds that loves tomato worms. We have had no significant damage from tomato worms this year. Stink bugs and thrips have been our biggest pests this year.

    We hand pick the stinkbugs. The thrips are so tiny and fast, but we must have thousands of them. They sucked our grape leaves dry.

    Any ideas?

  4. Yes! Just pulled a huge one off my plants the other day, he was as big around as my thumb and as long as my ring finger (I have big blocky work hands lol). But I didn’t know they would glow under black light, I will be trying this.

  5. I regularly sprinkle w DE. I’ve never had more than one on a plant, but when I find one, it’s a great treat for my chickens!!

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