Hornworms & Braconid Wasps: Nature’s Organic Pest Control

tomato hornworm
I found this guy on our pepper plants over the weekend. He’s a Hornworm Caterpillar, sometimes called a Tobacco Hornworm or a Tomato Hornworm. He was so cool looking, I had to call the kids to come and take a look. Jada immediately identified it.

We weren’t sure if the little white things all over it were eggs or what, so we looked it up online. Turns out, this Hornworm is covered in the cocoons of a predatory Braconid Wasp.

The female wasps lay eggs directly underneath the host hornworm’s skin. As the eggs hatch, the larvae literally eat the worm alive as they chew their way out. Once on the surface of the weakened hornworm, the mature larvae pupate, spinning a tiny oval cocoon on the back and sides of the host. In a few days, the mature wasps will hatch out and begin their search for more hornworms to destroy.

Isn’t that the most awesome thing ever? Nature’s own biological pest control.

Another thing to appreciate is that these tiny wasps don’t sting humans. So no worries there.

If you find a hornworm with what look like little white eggs all over it, leave it where it is and thank the wasps for doing their part to keep your garden strong and healthy.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Creator designed everything to work in harmony, if we’d just step back and let it be.

More interesting information on Hornworms and Braconid Wasps, can be found here.

6 thoughts on “Hornworms & Braconid Wasps: Nature’s Organic Pest Control”

  1. I learned this year that these worms glow in a UV light. UV flashlights are less than $6 now, so you can go out at night and find them all quickly! 🙂

  2. Yep everyday I went out I found these worms on my tomatoe plants.I’d kill at least 5 a day.Good thing to know about the white eggs on them next time I’ll leave them alone.

  3. These worms have a fierce appetite. They ate almost all of one of my huge tomato plants in a matter of 12 hours. And they are filled with gross green insides, the kids squashed ours and then tried to feed him to the chickens. They wouldn’t touch it. Ours did not have the white eggs/wasp cocoons on it but it’s nice to know what they are, if I see one with the eggs I suppose I will just relocate him to a place where I have no tomatoes planted. I saw a similar worm on my grape vine, wonder if it’s the same kind?

  4. I JUST found one of these on my tomato plant last week and freaked out that it would ruin all my peppers so removed it (didn’t kill it though). Thank you for this very helpful info. I’ll know what to do if I find one again.


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