The Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Horn worm
Manduca quinquemaculata

The tomato horn worm emerges from the caterpillar stage as the sphinx moth. Other common names include the hummingbird moth, or hawk moth.

The Tomato Horn worm is a large caterpillar that can grow up to four inches. It is mostly green with white horizontal stripes on its back that form a ‘v’ shape. The most determining characteristic is the presence of a “horn” near the tail.

The eggs of the tomato horn worm are light green or white and are laid here and there on both the upper and under-sides of the leaves. They are not usually clustered, but laid singly.

Plants affected:

•    tomatoes and most members of the nightshade family
•    potatoes
•    eggplant
•    peppers


Hand picking the caterpillars is the best way to treat affected plants.

For the purposes of an organic garden, insecticides are not recommend or practical as the caterpillars are quite large and easily seen for removal.

Crop rotation is beneficial because the tomato horn worm caterpillar drops off the plants when mature to pupate beneath the soil. It emerges as a moth in spring from a winter’s hibernation to mate and lay eggs.

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