Tomatoes – Caterpillars on Tomatoes

Do you know what to do if you find several large caterpillars munching on your tomatoes? What should you do to get rid of them?

It sounds like you are probably seeing tomato hornworms, which can grow to an alarming size! Like most caterpillars, hornworms can be controlled by using Bt, Bacillis thuringiensis. Bt is an organic way of taking care of those hornworms.

However, since tomato hornworms can do a lot of damage in a short time, you may want to remove the ones you see by hand. I use a beer bottle or the like to place over the branch where the hornworm is located. Then, you can commence to give the hornworm an all over body ache by bouncing if off the bottle walls until the hornworm lets go of the branch. The hornworm falls in the bottle and you can quickly pull the branch out of the bottle. Take the bottle and shove it neck first into the dirt. This is where it suffocates and puts nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes. In the late summer or early fall remove your bottles.

If you see a caterpillar with what looks like grains of rice all over it, feel free to relocate it elsewhere in the garden rather than killing it. It has been parasitized by a certain wasp laying its eggs on it. These small wasps are harmless to humans, but will help keep the hornworm population in check. At some point, the parasitized hornworm will die anyway.

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Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

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