Unchecked, tomato hornworms can do significant damage to tomatoes. The large green caterpillars grow to a maximum of 4 inches and have a distinctive protrusion like horns on their tail.
Large, chewed-out holes on the leaves of tomato plants are one of the most common signs of an infestation of tomato hornworms. Caterpillars can also damage and eat the fruit leaving large holes.
It is important to check tomato plants for signs of infestation regularly in order to control tomato hornworms. For small infestations, you can control them by picking up the caterpillars manually and dropping them in a bucket with soapy water.
To control tomato hornworms, you can also use natural predators such as birds or parasitic wasps. Planting companion plants such as marigolds, or rotating tomatoes with other crops will also help deter pests.
In severe cases, insecticides may be necessary to control tomato hornworms. To protect pollinators, you should follow all instructions and avoid spraying during the bloom period.