The dreaded Tomato Hornworm. When you see leaves disappearing from your tomato plant and possibly small black spots of excrement on the plant and leaves, you have been visited by the Tomato Hornworm. You do not want to touch it. This audacious beast will sting you with the horn.
I take a pair of pliers and remove it from the plant. Then, I place it in a cup of water with dish washing liquid. They will die when this happens. You have to be careful to look around the stems where the leaves are gone because these things are very good hiders. Often, wasps lay eggs on their back. if you see a hornworm covered with white egg sacs, leave it be. The egg sacs are those of a parasitic wasp called the Brancoid wasp. Let the eggs hatch, and you’ll have an army of wasps ready to defend your garden against all types of pests.
These emerge into the five-spotted Hawkmoth. During the summer months, moths emerge from pupae in about two weeks. Moths emerge from the soil, mate, and then begin to deposit the eggs of the next generation on tomato plants. By early fall, the pupae remain in the soil all winter and emerge as moths the following spring. They have been found on other green leaf plants such as moon flowers.