Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Hornworm Control

Tomato hornworms morph into magnificent moths called Sphinx Moths. They have stout, narrow wings, and a wingspan of about 4" and larger. The forewings are much longer than the hind wings, but the hind wings bear alternating light and dark bands. They are dull gray or grayish brown in color, though the sides of the abdomen usually are marked with five spots. The eggs of the tomato hornworm are spherical to oval in shape and measure about 1/100th in diameter. They vary in color from light green to white. They are deposited primarily on the lower leaf surface, but can also be on the upper surface. The larvae are cylindrical in form and bear five pairs of prolegs in addition to three pairs of thoracic legs. They have eight whitish or yellowish "V"-shaped marks laterally. The "horn" tends to be black in color.

The pupae drop to the soil at maturity and burrow to a depth of 10 to 15 cm, where they form a pupal cell. They are large and elongate-oval in form and brown or reddish brown in color.

The Tomato Hornworm is found almost anywhere tomatoes are grown. They are uncommon along the Gulf Coast but are a plague in almost any other location in North America. The life cycle can be completed in 30 to 50 days, but it can be prolonged due to cold weather.

These pests feed on the plants in the Solanaceae family - eggplant, pepper, tobacco, tomato, and some other members. They strip leaves from vines and occasionally damage fruit.

For control products, see below. For more information about controlling the larvae of moths, please see our Caterpillars and Moths Control page.

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