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Tomato Hornworms

Tomato and tobacco hornworms are serious pests of tomatoes and other plants in the same plant family. Their targets include garden favorites such as eggplants, peppers and potatoes, as well as tobacco plants. Tomato hornworms are more common in northern gardens, while tobacco hornworms prevail farther south, but these related species are equally destructive. They hide on plants during the day and come out at night to feed, often defoliating entire plants by morning.

Identification: Tomato and tobacco hornworms grow as thick as a finger and up to 4 inches long. Both pests are bright, "tomato leaf" green. On tomato hornworms, white V-shaped marks point forward along their sides; a curved black horn tops their rears. Tobacco hornworms have diagonal white marks and red posterior horns. The adult forms of these pests are large, broad-bodied moths known in different regions as sphinx moths, hawk moths or hummingbird moths.

Signs/Damage: Despite their large size, hornworms often blend into plant leaves and stems because of their light green color. They're not easily seen, but their rapid, extensive, nighttime damage gives them away. Upper parts of plants are hit first and hardest, as the pests eat entire leaves and feed on flowers and fruit. Large black droppings remain behind on plants and the ground below.

Control: Protect against hornworm devastation with early treatment, especially if adult moths are seen. To maximize your impact, treat in the late afternoon or evening, right before hornworms come out to feed. GardenTech® brand offers several highly effective options to kill hornworms by contact and keep protecting for up to three months. These products treat tomatoes and related garden favorites, including eggplants, peppers and potatoes, right up to one day before harvest*:

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use makes it simple to treat specific plants and target exposed hornworms directly. The adjustable nozzle allows you to select a direct stream or a broad spray. Cover plant leaves and other surfaces, including stems and fruit, thoroughly.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, used with a pump-style sprayer, is ideal for treating larger garden areas. Use the easy-to-use measure cap, add the appropriate amount of water to your sprayer, and mix well. Spray to cover all plant surfaces thoroughly and uniformly.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray, for hose-end spraying with a regular garden hose, makes quick work of thorough treatment. Just attach the container to your hose, and it measures and mixes automatically as you spray. Cover all plant surfaces thoroughly, including undersides of leaves and hidden stems where hornworms may hide.

Tip: Hornworms overwinter in garden soil in the pupae stage. Plow your garden during fall or winter to reduce their numbers.

*Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals on edible crops.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.




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