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Tomato Hornworms

September 20th, 2017

It’s tomato hornworm season here in Maine, I’ve been picking them off my tomatoes like mad. I always watch for the parasitic wasp eggs, but none have been found yet. I never pick them all off, I always sacrifice a few plants in hopes that the wasps will show up. In my Ohio garden I always had the wasps.


The worst part about them is that they take bites out of all the tomatoes, which then get moldy and aren’t good for anything. They won’t ripen and are lost as a crop.

Tomato hornworms are a favorite of my muscovy duck and her ducklings, they’ve been feasting on 5-8 hornworms a day this week.

Do you get hornworms on your tomatoes & peppers? Have you ever seen one covered in parasitic wasp eggs?

5 Comments to “Tomato Hornworms”
  1. Sara on September 20, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I’ve had a little bit of hornworm damage this year, but searched in vain to find a single one! I even went out with a black light and couldn’t spot the little jerks. But now I’m finding several dead ones covered in eggs, so I guess the wasps are better at this that I am, ha!

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  2. Nebraska Dave on September 20, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Susy, I’ve not had any bug problems in six years at Terra Nova Gardens. I contribute the non bug issue to the wild turkeys that roam the neighborhood. They seem to keep the area bug free and the woods tick free. Now if I could just find something to keep the area raccoon free. Well, maybe not because that would probably be a mountain lion. There have been three caught or killed in my city. The first one was many years ago and city officials thought it was just a big domestic cat that people were seeing until a city resident shot it and dumped it on the police station steps. So maybe I’ll just stick with an electric fence to control the curious critters.

    Have a great horn worm harvesting day in the garden.

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  3. bonnie knox on September 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Yes, I do get hornworms here in central NC. I don’t get a lot, but it only takes a few to do a lot of damage. My first hornworms this season showed up mid-June. I did find a couple later in the season (probably more than a month later) that had been parasitized by wasps.

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  4. Chris on September 20, 2017 at 11:53 am

    No hornworms but that’s a beautiful duck! :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

  5. Molly on September 20, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    I think it’s excellent that you leave some for the predators, if they come. Last year, I cut off most of the branches of a river birch that had sawfly larvae on them, on most of the lower branches, which worked to control them, but this year I left them all, wanting to see what happened, and eventually ladybugs came and got them. The tree was no more damaged this year by my lack of intervention than it was last year when I intervened. Hornworms might be a different matter, as they are huge, voracious, and quick, but I applaud your stance. I plant only cherry and grape tomatoes, which so far have never invited hornworms, but friends nearby have them on their larger tomatoes.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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