Country Lore: Dogs Can Help Control Tomato Hornworms

We discovered a new form of “organic” pest control for our tomato plants.

| June/July 2006

  • 216-016-Lore-1-CMYK.jpg
    These buggars can do major damage to your tomato crop. Enlist all the help you can get to battle them!
    PHOTO: BEVERLY BLACK

  • 216-016-Lore-1-CMYK.jpg

One day last July, my sister was looking closely at our tomato plants and noticed a great deal of damage due to the large, green larvae of the tomato hornworm moth, which lays its eggs during the wee hours of the night. My sister started searching for the hornworms and picked off at least 15.

Our dogs, Heidi, a yellow lab, and Zorro, a German shepherd, became very interested in what my sister was doing, so she offered a worm to each dog. Heidi and Zorro are always hungry, so why not? As unappetizing as it sounds, the dogs gobbled them up. The scent of the hornworms was with them, so the dogs began nosing around in the plants to find the tasty morsels.

Since then, we have seen the dogs in the tomato patch searching for hornworms on their own initiative. They grab the larvae right off the plants and eat them!

Any time we are in the garden, Heidi and Zorro accompany us and locate hornworms much faster than we can. Who would have guessed? This “organic” form of pest control is one that anyone with a dog can try!



Beverly Black
Auburn, Indiana





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