A notorious pest of the tomato plant is the tomato hornworm. They are common and can wreak havoc by destroying your tomato plants. Their bodies are light green with white stripes on the sides, making them hard to spot on your plants. Their telltale horn is at the end of their body and cannot sting you. They can grow up to 5 inches long, making them one of the largest garden pests you may come across.
We first noticed them after spotting their droppings which are pea-sized and dark green. If you see droppings then a hornworm is nearby. Luckily they do not travel very fast, making them easy to catch and remove from your plants. Another indicator of hornworm presence is finding stems stripped of leaves or large holes in your tomatoes. They have voracious appetites and can do tremendous damage in only a few days. Monitor your tomato plants at least once per day for signs of infestation.
If any hormworms are found, remove them immediately and drown them in a bucket of soapy water. This easily kills them without having to use pesticides. Hornworms also feed on pepper, eggplant and potato plants, so examine these other plants as well. Keeping a close eye out for these pests is the best way to protect your garden.
Hornworms will overwinter in the soil in cocoons. A good way to prevent them from returning next year is to till your soil before and after you plant your tomato crop. Tilling will destroy them and prevent them from emerging in the spring.