“I noticed two strange-looking caterpillars with eggs on their backs in my tomato garden this year and learned these were hornworms and they are terrible for tomato plants. I intend on moving my tomatoes elsewhere next year.” Question from Jennifer of Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania
Answer: You are in luck! You don’t need to worry about the tomato hornworms on your tomatoes because the eggs on their backs are those of parasitic wasps. They will kill a hornworm in no time, so nature has taken care of your problem!
Moving your tomatoes will not change whether you get hornworms or not. They are the caterpillars of a beautiful the five-spotted hawkmoth, which can detect tomatoes from afar and will lay eggs on your plants in the night.
The eggs may be placed on leaf tops or bottoms and are greenish, so they are very difficult to see. This means they are hard to remove before hatching. Just look for leaf chewing damage, then look for hornworms. When you find them, physically remove the caterpillars as you see them. It’s the easiest way to get rid of them fast if they are not already parasitized.
I hope that this information helps!
Black Gold Horticulturist
Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.
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