‘[Four] of them totally destroyed my garden’

After months spent tending to your vegetable garden, it can be frustrating when pests destroy your hard work. One Redditor recently shared a photo of a troublesome garden pest that had enjoyed snacking on their pepper plant.

In a popular Reddit post, the user included a photo of the hornworm that has taken up residence in their garden.

Hornworms are large caterpillars with horn-like tails. They are the larval stage of the five-spotted hawk moth. Before their metamorphosis into adulthood, five-spotted hawk moths spend a few weeks as three- to four-inch-long green caterpillars.

Their favorite foods are typically tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and other plants in the nightshade family.


Photo Credit: u/Bubbly_Lie_5508 / Reddit

These pests are commonly found throughout North America, from northern Mexico to the southern regions of Canada. For this unlucky gardener, this was their first encounter with a hornworm.

“We don’t have the heart to exterminate him ourselves,” the Redditor wrote. “… So we took a pepper and put it near him when we relocated them. He’ll at least have a nice meal before the birds get him, or he’ll find his way somewhere else.”

There are a few ways to deal with these dreaded garden pests. Instead of harsh chemical pesticides that can harm the environment and contaminate water supplies, there are a few natural methods that work just as well.

You can try removing hornworms manually, placing them far from your garden so they can either finish their development stage to become moths or be eaten by natural predators like birds or wasps.

Frustrated gardeners can also use homemade repellent, like sprinkling cayenne pepper over plants’ foliage and fruit.

For another environmentally friendly insecticide, try Bacillus thuringiensis. BT is a natural bacteria found in soil that is toxic to insect larvae when consumed. Nontoxic to plants and animals, it will not contaminate surface and groundwater.

You can buy it as a spray and apply it to your plants, especially after it rains.

Fellow Redditors shared their grievances with hornworms and tips on how to deal with them in the comment section.

“I totally hate these! Never had an issue until last year,” one Redditor wrote. “4 of them totally destroyed my garden and set me back 3 or 4 months for any crop. 2 pepper plants died.”

“Plant marigolds and basil around pepper and tomato plants to keep hornworms away,” another user suggested.

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