Tomato hornworm are causing much damage to our tomato plants. It is best to simply remove them from the plant. If you see small white rice-like objects hanging from the beast, leave them alone. It is type of wasp egg that will hatch and kill the tomato hornworm.
I was startled when I first discovered these monsters destroying my plants. But a quick search and a few discussions with some local old-timers put me at ease. Simply pull them off the plants and let them die from starvation. they can tear a tomato plant to shreds in a day or two if you let them. They can be hard to see on the plant as they are camouflaged but simply look for where there are many missing leaves on your plants. You will typically find one big one per plant. They grow large very quickly.
Destruction of the Tomato Hornworm
You can see here the damage cause by the pest. If your plants are vibrant and you simply remove them, the plant will continue to do well and provide you with plenty of tomatoes. In the fall after I removed all the plants, I tilled the earth where my plants had been. They lay eggs in the ground which hatch and become a moth in the spring completing the life cycle. Removing any larvae you find in the ground will reduce the chance that your infestation will be bad the next year. We typically don’t plant tomatoes in the same area year-to-year.
We hope this has been helpful to you in dealing with these types of pest in your garden. Leave a comment on you deal with these little pests and whether you have another way of getting rid of them.