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Official Blog of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
by Susi B
on March 25, 2019 at 7:09 AM
I wonder if this home gardener is actually seeing cut worms. I have been seeing a lot of these lately, and they are kind of free aren’t they?
Reply by Steve I Morse
on April 15, 2019 at 9:41 AM
cut worms are quite common, but in my experience ... you can't miss these tobacco hornworms vs. cutworms at least as "older" worms... and that cut worms often take the plant to the ground if they are around at night looking for opportunities.
by James Hammill
on March 29, 2019 at 9:25 AM
What kind of worm is shown in the picture? It looks like what I am finding in my raised beds. I killed over 100 of these worms found in each of my 8 beds last year. Do they feed on tomato plants?  
From the BLOG Editor... Yes, they are "Green Horned Tomato Worms" as described in the blog and in the backyard gardener discussions...  
from my personal experience below... they can get quite big as described in the blog here in Contra Costa County... maybe up to 4" and they grow fast if food is available... along with the worm, you will also eventually have some very large moths some nights... because of their size you often see large fecal matter (1/4" black pellets on the ground), and if you get down on your knees in your tomato patch, you can actually hear and find them above the fecal matter munching on your tomato plants.. the worms can be hand-picked, but I usually wear gloves, they can be squirmy trying to pick them off the plants.. I still remember the vision of my neighbor collecting his share, putting on his rarely used motorcycle helmet (w/full-faced mask) and taking a brick to them on the sidewalk w/o any splatter on his face... with both of us wondering how they got there since we lived in a "new" subdivision surrounded by large open pastures... probably basically eggs in nursery bought plants and moths flying the neighbors are the source and they are almost an annual problem at some level. If you have them and want abundant tomatoes you will have to remove them as I've often had plants almost completely "deleafed" in a day or two, usually leading to no or few tomatoes from the blossoms... they do munch on tomatoes as well...Editor.
by Colin Purrington
on April 14, 2019 at 4:36 AM
Photograph shows a tobacco hornworm. Not that it really matters ...
Reply by Steve I Morse
on April 15, 2019 at 9:36 AM
Colin is right... I misidentified the tobacco hornworm... must have been my "horror" incidents finding these worms in my tomato patch... I still remember how big they got, how fast they could strip a tomato plan... and that when you were down on your knees among the plants you could actually hear them "chew"  
Thanks Colin  
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