How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Hornworms—Manduca spp.

Hornworms of all sizes have a distinctive horn at the rear end. Mature caterpillars are very large -- up to 4 inches long.

Identification of species | Life cycle


Entire leaves and small stems may be consumed. Large pieces from green fruit may also be chewed.


Handpick or snip hornworms with shears. Natural enemies normally keep populations under control. Hornworm eggs are attacked by Trichogramma parasites and the larvae by Hyposoter exiguae. There are also several general predators to keep populations under control. Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad are effective against smaller larvae. Discing or rototilling after harvest destroys pupae in soil and prevents adults from developing.

Mature hornworm larva
Mature hornworm larva

Hornworm damage to tomato fruit
Hornworm damage to tomato fruit

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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