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Summer Garden Pests: Tobacco Hornworm

January 1, 1970

The Tobacco Hornworm

Brandy Owens, Perennials Merchandiser

Many experienced gardeners in Tennessee can attest to a Hornworms ability to wreak havoc on crops. Most commonly seen amongst the few different species in Tennessee is the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta). Before they reach their adult stages as the sphinx moth, the hornworms can almost completely defoliate a fruit bearing plant in your garden. They have a variety of host plants. Any plant within the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, etc.) is vulnerable to the hornworm.

Early season monitoring is the best way to stay proactive and prevent any large population of these pests developing in your garden. In the early weeks of the warm season (late May/early July), routinely check any susceptible plants for the presence of hornworms or signs of defoliation. Populations of hornworms reach their peak in midsummer, making it important to identify and apply any treatments early.

How Can You Get Rid Of Tobacco Hornworms?

Organic pesticides are most commonly recommended for the chemical treatment of hornworms. The organically produced Bacillus thuringiensis (B.T.) is the active ingredient most effective for treatment. It is important to note that B.T. pesticides must be ingested by the hornworms and can wash off leaf surface after rain or regular garden waterings. Here at Martin’s Home & Garden, we recommend Captain Jack’s B.t. Spray.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s Bt Thuricide – 32 fl. oz.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s Bt Thuricide – 128 fl. oz.


Protect Your Plants At Martin’s Home & Garden

Warm season gardening can be very fruitful and rewarding, but be mindful of hornworms and other garden pests that can negatively impact your veggies. When you get unwelcome garden visitors, the experts at our local garden center can help you show them the exit!

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