How to Kill Caterpillars on Tomato Plants

Overview

There is one caterpillar, the horned worm caterpillar, that has the ability to completely destroy your tomato plants. It is also known as the tomato horn worm. This green caterpillar must be killed as soon as it is spotted so that no further damage occurs to your tomato plants.

Step 1

Lift up the leaves of your tomato plants and look for tiny caterpillar eggs. You can remove these eggs by hand and burn them. This is an easy way to destroy the caterpillar before it has a chance to destroy your tomato plant.

Step 2

Set a few bird houses near your crop of tomatoes. Birds are natural predators to the caterpillar and will kill and eat any caterpillars they see.

Step 3

Plant sweet alyssum, fennel, dill, or spearmint next to your tomato plants. Tiny parasitic wasps that are attracted to these plants will see the caterpillars and lay their eggs on them. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat right through the caterpillar and kill it.

Step 4

Make your own insecticidal spray. Fill a spray bottle with a water and add dish soap. Mix the ingredients together and spray your tomato plants with it. This solution will not hurt your tomato plants at all. It will, however, kill the horned worm caterpillar.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't re-plant your tomato plants in the same spot from year to year. The horned worm caterpillar lives in the soil during its pupa stage. It will easily find your tomato plants if you use the same soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Birdhouses
  • Alyssum
  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Spearmint
  • 1 tbsp. dish soap
  • 16 oz. water
  • Spray bottle

References

  • The Garden Lady: Getting Rid of the Horned Worm Caterpillar
  • Garden's Alive!: How to Handle Tomato Hornworms
  • Care2: Homemade Insecticidal Soap
Keywords: tomato plants, horned caterpillars, horned worms

About this Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.