Dre Campbell Farm
17 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms

This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to view our affiliate disclosure

17 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms

One of the most common pests in the vegetable garden is the tomato hornworm. These pesky little critters can devastate a tomato plant in a matter of days. But, as this article highlights, you will discover some natural ways to get rid of them.

One method is to simply handpick them off the plants and toss them into the chicken coop.

Another remedy is to use diatomaceous earth. This type of powder works by cutting through the caterpillars’ exoskeletons and dehydrating them.

Below, we’ll expand on these remedies and highlight more ways to control tomato horn worms organically.

What Are Tomato Hornworms?

These critters are big, green caterpillars that have a horn-like tail. They can cause damage to your tomato plants and other crops, like pepper plants.

They can strip a plant of its leaves very quickly [1]. And if you pretend not to notice them, they will do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms Naturally

If you’ve got a tomato hornworm problem, don’t worry! As mentioned, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them naturally. Below, we’ll talk about these remedies in detail.

1. Pick Them Off

This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite satisfying to pick off and squish those green caterpillars on your tomato plants.

If you don’t want to squish them, throw them far out, away from your garden, so wild birds can pick them up. You can also drop them in some hot, soapy water.

2. Row Covers

Another method you can use to prevent tomato worms and tobacco hornworms from attacking your crops is to cover the plants with floating row covers.

These will keep the moths from getting access to your plants. Once there is no way for them to lay their eggs on your plants, there will be no caterpillars to deal with later.

3. Soap and Water

This is another excellent tomato hornworm control home remedy. That’s right, soapy water.

All you have to do is mix up a little soap and water and put it in a spray bottle. Then, just spray your plants with the mixture, and the critters will wiggle around so you can easily spot them.

Some may even fall to the ground, where you can squish them or feed them to predators. Alternatively, drop them in a bucket with soapy water. This method will kill the hornworms within a few minutes.

4. Repellent Plants

This is a plain and simple act of planting certain crops together to reap the benefits of their symbiotic relationship.

One of the most sensible things you can do for your garden is to companion plant with marigolds. These flowers produce a strong scent that can deter tomato hornworm moths and other garden pests.

You can also try planting basil, which is a plant that these green worms on tomato plants don’t like. Other plants that repel tomato hornworms include dill, nasturtiums, chamomile, and borage.

5. Trap Crops

You can plant trap crops around the perimeter of your garden or wherever you see signs of these caterpillars. These plants help keep certain critters away from your main crops.

The best trap crop for tomato hornworms is flowering tobacco plants. The hornworms are attracted to flowering tobacco plants and will leave your tomatoes and other crops alone.

6. Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops in the same area of your garden each growing season [2].

So, you will place another crop in the tomato spot next growing season. This helps to break the life cycle of pests, and it also helps to improve the fertility of your soil.

By growing tomatoes in a different spot each season, you can help keep the population of tomato caterpillars in check. This method also helps prevent plant diseases from taking over.

7. Natural Predators

Tomato hornworms are no match for their natural predators. Ladybugs, braconid wasps, some birds, and green lacewings all help keep these pests in check.

Therefore, try to attract and keep these creatures around. Let them do their job. They will help control caterpillars on your tomato plants.

8. Cayenne Pepper Spray

Make a homemade cayenne pepper spray from a mixture of cayenne pepper, water, and soap.

The soap will help the spray adhere to the plants, and the hot pepper spray will deter these pests from eating your beloved plants.

For the recipe, mix 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Apply it to all plant surfaces.

9. Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt for short, is toxic to tobacco hornworms, cabbage worms, pepper hornworms, tomato hornworms, and other caterpillars.

It’s completely safe for humans and animals, and it’s often used in organic gardening. Mix this organic insecticide according to the instructions, then spray it on your plants.

10. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural, organic remedy to kill pests, and it’s really easy to use.

Just mix one tablespoon of neem oil with a teaspoon of liquid soap and a gallon of water, and spray it on your plants. The hornworms will die off eventually.

11. Till the Soil

If you had a lot of tomato hornworms last season, just till the soil around your plants next year. This will help destroy overwintering larvae.

12. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

This is a type of powder with very sharp edges. As such, it is deadly to hornworms and other soft-bodied insect pests.

When they crawl over it, it will irritate their bodies to the point where they will later die. Therefore, sprinkle some DE on your plants.

You can also make a DIY spray out of it by combining one part DE with four parts water. Shake well and coat your plants.

The spray starts working once it dries.

13. Hose Them

These pesky insects are no match for a gardener armed with a hose. Simply turn the hose on and direct the water at the hornworms.

The force of the water will knock them off of the plants. You can then collect them and dispose of them.

14. Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are tiny, parasitic creatures that can kill pupating larvae in the soil.

Just mix them with water and apply them to your garden according to the instructions that come with your purchase.

15. Azera Gardening

There’s no need to reach for toxic insecticides. Azera Gardening’s organic insecticide is just as effective and much safer for you and the environment.

It’s made with all-natural ingredients—pyrethrins and azadirachtin. This pesticide kills the caterpillars on contact.

16. Bug Buster-O

Bug Buster-O is a strong, natural formula. It’s great for people who want to get rid of caterpillars eating tomatoes and other plants.

Moreover, it’s eco-friendly and safe for the environment. It also works against many other garden pests.


This product is specially formulated to control a wide range of insect pests, including hornworms. Plus, it’s safe for use around children and pets.

It also works against fungal diseases.


If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, and potatoes, you may know that tomato hornworms can ruin your crop in no time. Luckily, these safe and natural remedies can help keep these pests under control.

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature—sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

1 comment

  • I really wish that you would allow us to print the information. It is exactly what I am looking for, but I need to reference it, decide which method will work best for me–then mix the components. I am always in my gardening clothes with dirt and gloves and I am not in the mood or the attire to come inside and pull it up on the computer, write it down and then go back to mix it. I am not–I repeat, NOT–trying to steal anything, but the help I feel has been offered, is limited at best.

Organic pest control

DIY Pest Control