If you don’t want to fill your tomatoes with pesticides, you will battle caterpillars of many kinds.
If you walk out and see stems without leaves, you are likely battling hornworms.
Hornworms are called this because of their “horns”.
They are extremely difficult to find. Camouflage is their specialty.
There are 2 in this photo above.
They will eat tomato plants in a hurry.
There are 3 ways to get rid of them.
1. Pick them off. This works if you have superior vision and know how to spot them. (When you crush them, they pop green guts every where).
Here is a picture of hornworm poop:
2. Spray with pesticides. This will rid your plants of all insects, including ladybugs and honeybees. Not an option I like.
3. Use natural products that only kill caterpillars. You can purchase a dust or spray that contains “BT”. It’s a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis. It crystallizes in the caterpillar’s gut and causes a natural death. Totally harmless to ladybugs and honeybees.
It also kills these little guys that cause your tomato leaves to turn yellow. There are several different species of caterpillars and worms that will eat your garden plants.
Diatemaceous earth is another natural product but it can kill a wider range of insects.
So look at your plants daily, pick off any worms you see, use BT, and enjoy your homegrown tomatoes!
Happy tomato growing!