GardenRx: Dealing with Tomato Hornworms / PBS-TV’s Garden Rx starring Loren Nancarrow shows you how to identify tomato moths and hornworms in your garden and how to get rid of them naturally, without chemical pesticides.
Tomato hornworms can be a common and frustrating pest for gardeners. These large caterpillars can quickly devour tomato plants, causing significant damage to your crop. But fear not, as PBS-Tv’s GardenRx has some effective solutions for getting rid of tomato hornworms and protecting your tomatoes. Here are a few tips to control these pesky pests:
1. Handpicking: The most organic and practical method of control is manually removing the tomato hornworms from your plants. Wear gloves and carefully inspect your tomato plants for any signs of the green-colored caterpillars. Then, simply pluck them off and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water. Be sure to check both sides of the leaves and along the stems, as the hornworms can blend in with the foliage.
2. Attract beneficial insects: Encouraging natural predators such as parasitic wasps and braconid wasps can help control tomato hornworm populations. These beneficial insects lay their eggs on the hornworms, which then hatch and feed on the caterpillars. Planting flowers like marigolds, dill, and fennel in close proximity to your tomatoes will attract these helpful insects.
3. Use organic insecticides: If the infestation is severe or handpicking alone is not sufficient, you can turn to organic insecticides as a last resort. Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a naturally occurring bacterial pesticide that specifically targets hornworms and other caterpillars. This microbial insecticide disrupts their digestive system, causing them to stop feeding and eventually die. Follow the instructions on the product label for proper use and application.
4. Practice proper garden hygiene: Keeping your garden clean and free from debris can help prevent tomato hornworms from overwintering. Regularly remove any fallen leaves, fruit, or pruned plant material, as these can serve as hiding places for the pests. Additionally, rotating your tomato crop to a different location each year can disrupt the life cycle of the hornworms and reduce their populations.
Remember to always monitor your plants closely and act swiftly at the first sign of tomato hornworms. By implementing these effective solutions from PBS-Tv’s GardenRx, you can protect your tomatoes and enjoy a bountiful harvest.