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Tomato Hornworms

Tomato and tobacco hornworms are serious pests for 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.

Tomato Hornworm 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 or Damage of Tomato Hornworms

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.

How to Control Tomato Hornworms

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 and protect your harvests:

  • Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use2 makes it simple to treat specific plants or kill targeted hornworms on contact. The adjustable nozzle allows you to select the width of your spray. Cover plant leaves and other surfaces thoroughly, including stems and fruit.
  • 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 to kill by contact and protect against hornworms for up to three months.
  • Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Spray for hose-end spraying with a regular garden hose makes quick work of treatment. Just attach the container to your hose — it measures and mixes automatically as you spray. Cover all plant surfaces thoroughly, including undersides of leaves and hidden stems. This product kills by contact and protects against hornworms for up to three months.

Tomato Hornworm Control 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 thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for listed plants and pests, application frequency and pre-harvest intervals (PHI) for 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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