Video: How to Control Tomato [and Tobacco] Hornworms


Tomato and tobacco hornworms, are large, visually similar caterpillars that feed on many parts of plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), including tomatoes. The key distinguishing feature is that the tomato hornworm has V-shaped, yellow-white markings on the body, and the tobacco hornworm has white diagonal lines.

Because of their large size, they can rapidly defoliate tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Handpicking is one method of controlling these highly destructive pests. You can also apply Dipel DF (OG) (which contains the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Kurstaki), as a biological method that is certified for organic production to control hornworms. Predatory wasps can also have a controlling effect.

The adult stages of the tomato and tobacco hornworms are likewise visually similar members of the Sphingidae, the sphinx moth family. That of the tomato hornworm is commonly known as the five-spotted hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata), and that of the tobacco hornworm is commonly known as the Carolina sphinx moth or tobacco hawk moth (Manduca sexta).