5 Ways On How To Get Rid Of Tomato Worms Naturally

Learn and put into practice these amazing ways on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally and get to improve the quality and yield of your tomatoes.

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If you have grown garden tomatoes, you have likely dealt with tomato hornworms, which are green caterpillar pests. These worms also feed on potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Their green appearance makes it easy for them to camouflage with the plants and eat non-stop, thus consequently creating chewed and spotty leaves and fruits.

Hornworms usually bore holes in the tomato fruits or eat the leaves and stems of the tomato plant

Hornworms usually bore holes in the tomato fruits or eat the leaves and stems of the tomato plant.

The life cycle of tomato hornworms is as follows:

  • Tomato hornworms come from a mottled brown moth. Adult moths lay their eggs on the foliage’s underside, and the eggs will hatch within a week.
  • The eggs then reach the caterpillar larvae stage and start to feed on the 4th to 6th week before creating a cocoon. If the weather is favorably warm, the larvae will burrow for less than 3 weeks.
  • Moths emerge and lay eggs once again. In climates that are warm, it is possible to get over one generation within a year.

Identifying Tomato Hornworms

The worms may grow up to 6 inches in length. They are most damaging when in their larvae (caterpillar) stage. Their color is pale green, and they have some black and white markings and a horn-like protrusion in their rear. The larvae also have V-shaped stripes on their body.

Hornworms are green in color with a stingless horn-like protrusion at their rear

Hornworms are green in color with a stingless horn-like protrusion at their rear.

Since the caterpillar blends well with the plants, it may be a challenge to identify them easily. The best option is to identify infestations immediately. Some of the ways through which you can identify infestation include:

  • Closely monitor the upper side of the tomato leaves for droppings left by the caterpillars that feed on the leaves. The droppings are normally dark green. Then check on the underside, and you’ll likely find it hanging from there.
  • Check for stems that have some wilted or missing leaves. You are likely to find white cocoons and hornworms there.
If you identify leaves with severe defoliation, large holes, scarring on fruit surfaces, or and devoured flowers, it should sound an alarm that your garden is infested with tomato hornworms

If you identify leaves with severe defoliation, large holes, scarring on fruit surfaces, or and devoured flowers, it should sound an alarm that your garden is infested with tomato hornworms.

How to Get Rid of Tomato Worms Naturally

Taking no action to prevent or kill these pests may end up costing you in terms of unproductive plants, poor tomato quality, and low yields. Some of the ways on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally include:

1. Handpicking

If either your tomato plants or the number of tomato worms is few, handpicking may be an ideal method. For you to apply this method of worm control, all that is required is identify affected tomato plant and pick off the worms. Kill the collected worms by throwing them into the fire.

2. Rototilling

Though it may not give perfect result in the current year, rototilling your garden will be absolutely ideal in the coming year. The hornworms’ pupae stage often inhabits in the soil, and since the worms at this stage are usually large and not buried deep, rototilling your garden may prove effective in getting rid of tomato worms naturally by over 90 percent. For effective results on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally, this method is advised immediately after harvesting the tomatoes.

This method as a worm control will help in exposing larvae stages that are buried in the soil. By bringing them up on the ground, the larvae become prone to predators and getting scorched by the sun

This method as a worm control will help in exposing larvae stages that are buried in the soil. By bringing them up on the ground, the larvae become prone to predators and getting scorched by the sun.

When choosing a rototilling mower, it’s best to choose one that will be convenient as per your needs. You can choose either the self-propelled or the riding mower. Both types of mowers are common especially in large lawns that have steep terrain.

3. Introduction of disease

Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterial disease that is deadly to hornworms. These bacteria act as an active ingredient in several pesticides, but it is also possible to use them on their own without putting wildlife at risk or harming desired insects. The bacteria works by excreting proteins capable of paralyzing the digestive system of tomato worms, thus preventing the worms from eating. This consequently starves the worms to death.

4. Introducing Predators

Another ideal way on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally include the introduction of predators such as green lacewings, braconid wasps, common wasps, and lady beetles. At the worm’s egg or larvae stage, green lacewings and lady beetles will come handy by eating the immature worms. Moreover, once the worms develop into maturity, braconid wasps lay their eggs on the worm and in turn, eat the developing caterpillar.

Lady beetles tend to be carnivorous and is an ideal introduction to your tomato garden as they will feed on the worms’ larvae.

Lady beetles tend to be carnivorous and is an ideal introduction to your tomato garden as they will feed on the worms’ larvae..

You can also make your garden a haven for birds that eat caterpillars. This can be done by setting up feeders and baits that will attract birds such as Robins and mockingbirds.

However, the introduction of birds as a way on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally may also attract your domestic cat into the garden as they try to prey on the birds. Consequently, your wandering cat is likely to get infections or be infested. A sick cat can be messy both indoors and outdoors. Nevertheless, there is a solution to this, with a cat repellent spray and flea fogger you can be assured that you will maintain your indoors and yard clean and your cat free from external infestation.

5. Plant a Trap Crop

Planting dill crop can help keep hornworms off your tomatoes. The worms tend to prefer this plant. Thus, having them crowd around it will enable for easier identification and elimination.

Getting rid of hornworms will ensure that you get the desirable results for your tomatoes

Getting rid of hornworms will ensure that you get the desirable results for your tomatoes.

Conclusion

It is important to incorporate various methods when deciding on how to get rid of tomato worms naturally. The reason for this is because the worms may build up resistance and device ways to go round a certain method, especially if it is the only routine method applied. You need to combine various natural methods throughout the season.

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Lucy M. Clark
 

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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