Tiny Green Worms Are Eating My Tomato Plant Leaves

Written by cheryl munson
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Tiny Green Worms Are Eating My Tomato Plant Leaves
Hornworms can do serious damage to tomato plants. (David Oldfield/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

What's eating your plant isn't really a worm, per se. It is one of the most dastardly pests to tomato plants: the tomato hornworm. Although it has a "worm" name, it is really a caterpillar.

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Identification

If you see the tomato hornworm in its "tiny green" stage, you're seeing it as a caterpillar. It will have a pale green colour during this stage. However, within less than a month it will get huge and grow up to 4 inches long. Once they get that large, they are unmistakable and will have little horns on their body.

Hornworm Cycle

Hornworms lay eggs underneath the tomato plant leaves that become the five-spotted hawk moth. You will notice them throughout the summer, if the development of the hornworms goes untreated.

Plant Damage

Hornworms eat the leaves and stems of the tomato plant. If unchecked, they can totally defoliate a plant within just a few days and cause severe damage to your tomato garden.

Treatment

Use a liquid spray that contains Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as "Bt," once every three to five days. Bt is eco-friendly. It will make them very ill, essentially paralysing the hornwormsand causing them to die from starvation.

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