“Can you tell me if Green Tomato worms can be found around Oklahoma?” asks this reader in her submission. She does not attach any photos, though she notes that she lives in Washington County. “I would like to know if they do, so when I start my garden I can be prepared for them.” First off, we assume that by ‘green tomato worm’, our reader is referring to the tomato hornworm. If that is the case, it might be ample to provide some context. The tomato hornworm is a moth caterpillar which is indeed green in color, and which does feed on tomatoes, among other plants.
In fact, the diet of the tomato hornworm consists of various plants, such as potatoes, eggplants, peppers and more. The tomato hornworm belongs to a family of moths known as hawk moths or sphinx moths, which grow to immense sizes. Both the caterpillars and the adult moths are nocturnal, meaning it will be difficult for our reader to catch them eating her plants at the times she will likely be out gardening. The bright green coloration of the caterpillars allows them to blend in with the plants they feed on and hide from predators.
Now, as our reader has already correctly identified, the caterpillars are a danger to the garden, as large populations can cut down swaths of vegetation, making them notorious pests to gardeners and farmers. And to answer our reader’s question, they can indeed be found in Oklahoma. It is only in the Southeast of the United States that they are not as commonly found, but otherwise they can be found all throughout the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada. Luckily, controlling tomato hornworm populations in one’s garden is not too difficult if their numbers are not out of hand. All our reader needs to do is regularly check her plants for roaming caterpillars and then pick them off the plants and move them elsewhere. Of course, doing this during the night is most fruitful, but that could also prove to be a problem. If anything, she could spray her plants before bed with some soapy water, as this will make it harder for the caterpillars to get a grip on the stems as they try to climb them.
To conclude, tomato hornworms can be found in Oklahoma, and all across North America. They are not dangerous to humans or pets, but are harmful to gardens if their populations get out of hand. We hope this helps and we wish our reader the very best!
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