Tomatoes are one of the most attractive vegetables for insects due to their characteristic aroma and color. In addition to this, they are vegetables with high water and vitamin content, which internally makes them the ideal place to reproduce and feed for a while. For this reason, they are one of the vegetables most attacked by pests.
The tomato worm (Heliotis Helicoverpa) is the most common pest of this fruit and many others sown in agricultural sectors. Most resort to the use of insecticides and chemicals to eliminate pests. Still, today many natural alternatives promise fascinating results and that do not cause damage to the environment.
What is a tomato hornworm?
What s tomato worms (Heliothis Helicoverpa) are severe pests affecting tomatoes and other plants of the same family. Among its victims are the gardens’ favorite plants, such as eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tobacco plants.
These insects are common in orchards in the northern region. Simultaneously, tobacco worms are more prevalent in the south, but these species are related and equally destructive. They tend to hide in plants during the day and feed at night, often defoliating entire plants overnight.
How to identify tomato hornworms?
Tomato and tobacco worms grow to be finger-thick and up to 4 inches (10.16 cm) long. Both pests have a bright green hue similar to that of the tomato leaf. Tomato worms have white marks as “V” pointing forward and is n located on the sides and a black curved horn on the back.
Tobacco worms have diagonal white markings and red posterior horns. The adults of these pests are large, thick moths known in different regions as sphinx moths, sphinx moths, or transparent-winged sphinx moths.
Where do tomato hornworms come from?
These particular insects’ origin is not entirely discovered because they can be found anywhere in the world where vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergines, and many others are grown. The species is widespread in central and southern Europe, temperate Asia, Africa, Australia, and Oceania. Its presence in Brazil has recently been confirmed. It is a migratory species that reaches Scandinavia and other northern territories.
Where do tomato hornworms go during the day?
This species is active at night, feeding and moving around on tomato plants. They are hidden in dark, damp places close to the ground; they mostly use holes or hide under some rocks until night comes again. This is because, during the day, they are exposed to a wide variety of predators that can kill them.
Do hornworms bite?
Tomato worms are completely harmless to humans. They do not bite or sting, but when crushed, they expel a liquid that can be toxic to some people. For this reason, it is advisable to use some gloves or protection to prevent the liquid from coming into contact with your skin. In this way, you do not run the risk of having allergies.
Hornworm damage on tomato plants
These small insects do a lot of damage to tomato plants. They begin by eating the plant’s leaves, which can throw them off balance and cause them to fall to the ground. When they finish, they begin to pierce the tomato’s surface to enter and begin to eat and lay eggs inside the fruit. Eventually, the plant dies.
Does neem oil kill hornworms?
Neem extract, along with potassium soap, is one of the most effective ecological tools to repel and avoid pests in our urban garden or home garden. It is repelled by water, so it needs to be formulated with appropriate surfactants to mix. This hydrophobic property is very useful when used as an insect repellent in the air crops free because it is not apparent from the leaves easily, much less with rain.
Will soapy water kill hornworms?
With the idea of reducing agrochemicals and reducing the impact on beneficial fauna, soap is proposed to control mobile insects, such as mites and some newborn worms.
The body of insects is covered by a hard substance called chitin, and on top of that layer of chitin, there is a waxy coating that protects the insects from dehydration. Fumigating the plants with soaps produces a wash of that waxy coating, and then the insect dies from dehydration, especially when the sun is inclement.
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How To Eliminate Tomato Hornworms Naturally?
Many natural alternatives allow ending the plague of tomato worms and benefit the health of the plants. Here we name you some of the best options:
Remove them by hand
If you can easily visualize them and notice that they are only a few worms, the best thing you can do is remove them by hand and place them away from the plantation. You must remember that it is essential to preserve nature in good condition. Even animals such as worms are important in the ecosystem.
A natural repellent prevents these worms from eating tomato plants and their fruits.
Interseeding the tomatoes
If you put a row of tomatoes, and on both sides, you put plants of dill, basil, and marigolds, you can prevent the worms from getting close to the tomatoes. These plants are much more attractive to worms, preventing them from approaching the tomatoes and spraying them with the natural repellent to prevent.
How to prevent Tomato Hornworms
The best thing is to prevent before pests appear and begin to complicate things with your crops. For this, we will show you some alternatives that can work for you so that tomato worms do not bother:
- Rotate the crops: You must plant your tomato plants in different places in the garden each time you renew the crop. In this way, they will be difficult to locate by pests.
- Avoid monocultures: The best you can do is plant several types of plants in your garden because, in this way, none of the most frequent pests will be able to detect your tomato crop.
- Keep the soil moist: When you keep the soil nourished and moist to encourage plant growth, it is much easier to prevent pests.
- Use a drip irrigation system: By frequently receiving water, insects stay away from the plant, which is an excellent alternative.
- Avoid using synthetic insecticides: Although this can help you a lot with pests, it can also cause severe damage to the health of the soil and plants.