I love our garden. We grow as much as we can, and I’m constantly picking herbs. We also have 13 tomatoes growing right now, which is pretty exciting. Our tomatoes, though, have attracted tomato caterpillars.
At first, I was all, “Aww, these tomato caterpillars are so cute” and I even took a photo to show Pete.
The next day, I saw that our two resident caterpillars had pooped all over our tomatoes. “That’s nature,” I thought. “Natural fertilizer.”
But then I took to Google and found out no, these caterpillars are bad. Very bad for our tomatoes.
Tomato Caterpillars: What They Are And How To Get Rid Of Them
What are tomato caterpillars?
So tomato caterpillars are actually called tomato hornworms. They’re large, green moth catepillars with a horn on one side. They can grow up to five inches and feed on your tomatoes. They can, eventually, turn into similarly-sized moths.
The good news is when they become moths, they won’t bother your plants. The bad news is that while they are caterpillars, your plants are in big trouble.
Are tomato caterpillars harmful?
They won’t sting you, despite them having a horn.
They will, however, wreak havoc on your tomato plants. The tomato caterpillars will feed on the leaves, poop all over your plants, and eventually eat through your tomatoes.
How do you know if you have tomato caterpillars?
You’ll see them. They blend in with the leaves, but you should be able to see them on the stems of your tomato plants.
if you don’t see them, check the tops of your plants. If many leaves are missing, tomato caterpillars have been there. Also look for green or black square-shape droppings (they are black at first, then turn green later). If you see them you have tomato caterpillars.
Where did the tomato caterpillars come from?
Hawkmoths (specifically, the manduca quinquemaculata, the five-spotted hawkmoth) smelled your tomato plants and laid its eggs there. Those eggs hatched into small, green tomato caterpillars. Those lived on the stems of your plants and ate your leaves, but you probably didn’t notice them.
They do, eventually, grow into the large caterpillars that you have probably noticed.
How to get rid of tomato caterpillars?
Honestly, all I did was cut the branches that they were on and relocated them. You can naturally get rid of them by mixing dish soap and water together, then spraying it on your tomatoes. Personally, I didn’t like that idea because I don’t spray anything on any of our plants. You can also buy insect repellent to spray on your garden, as well.
After the growing season is over, be sure to till the soil to try and combat any larvae that may have been left there (because you don’t want them to come back next year).