Help! I Have Egg-Covered Tomato Hornworms on My Tomatoes.

“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!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist