The Tomato Worm (Tomato Hornworm)

The Tomato Worm, also known as the Tomato Hornworm or Horn Worm, isn’t really a worm at all. Tomato Worms are actually caterpillars which are the larva of the 5-Spotted Hawk Moth.

The Tomato Worm or Hornworm is usually about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in length, a pleasant leaf green, and has v- or chevron-shaped stripes on its back. The Tomato Hornworm’s cousin, the Tobacco Hornworm, is the larva of the Sphinx Moth, and is similar in appearance except that the stripes are straight and on the diagonal, rather than v-shaped.

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The Tomato Worm gets its “Hornworm” monicker from the fact that it has what appears to be a small red horn sticking out of its tail end.

While these bright, friendly worms can be a bit of a nuisance as they munch through your tomato or other vegetable blossoms and leaves, they are more victim than bad guy. Many parasitic insects, including certain wasps, invade the Tomato Worm and use its flesh as nourishment for themselves and their offspring. Some wasps, for example, lay their eggs on the Tomato Worm, and when the eggs hatch the larva feed on the Tomato Worm, cocoon in the still living Tomato Worm (you can see the cocoons projecting out of its body), and then kill it once hatched.

With a life like that to which to look forward, you may not want to begrudge the Tomato Worm its lunch of your tomato leaves, but if you do wish to get rid of Tomato Worms in your garden, it’s best to handpick them.

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The Tomato Worm has also been memorialized in the nicknaming of the space suit, the Tomato Worm suit.

Check out our Tomato Worm video!

Recommended reading:

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control : A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy Without Chemicals

Author: The Top Worm

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