What Do Hornworms Eat?


What Do Hornworms Eat?

The larvae of the Lepidoptera family of moths are hornworms. The 1450 different species of horn moths known by many different names, including tobacco worms, white-lined sphinx worms, hawk moths, and sphinx worms.

They are quite enormous worms. The tomato hornworm can reach a length of 80mm. The size of different hornworm species varies.

Some hornworm species, such as the tobacco hornworm, are regarded as pests because they can seriously harm tobacco plantations, yet other times, kids adore keeping these worms as pets. Some types of hornworm are also offered for sale as food for lizards like bearded dragons.

What Do Hornworms Eat?

What Do Hornworms Eat?

However, some species favor some plants over others. The food that hornworms eat might cause them to change color. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular meals that hornworms enjoy.

Hornworm chow

If you run out of their regular fresh diets, most breeders and pet owners like to stock up on hornworm chow so there is always something to feed these worms. A range of components, including wheat germ, agar, linseed oil, flake yeast, dandelion leaves, grapevine leaves, and others can be used to make hornworm chow.

To promote the growth of these insects or to provide “gut-loaded” diets for reptiles, many manufacturers additionally add extra vitamins and minerals.

Tomato plants

Soft tomato leaves are a favorite food of hornworms. They have the potential to seriously harm crops. While tomato leaves are perfectly capable of being consumed by hornworms, they are not the greatest diet to provide if you intend to use your worms as lizard food. Tobacco leaves do poison your lizards and make hornworms poisonous.

Mulberry leaves or silkworm chow

Also a fan of mulberry leaves are hornworms. The main food source for silkworms is also this. The best thing to give your hornworms are soft mulberry leaves. You can also purchase silkworm chow, which is produced from mulberry leaves, and feed it to your worms.


Various plants are edible to hornworms. They are allowed to eat raw potatoes, romaine lettuce, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, mashed celery, and red bell peppers.

Ideally, you shouldn’t try to raise your hornworms on celery or romaine lettuce because these foods are quite low in nutrients. You should give your worms this as a nice emergency food or snack.


Some types of hornworms can consume tobacco leaves without becoming poisonous. They can expel the majority of the toxins, which is why.

If you intend to feed hornworms to other animals, it is probably preferable to avoid providing them with this food source. These meals can have a harmful impact on the health of other creatures, such as lizards, even though they do not release all of the tobacco poisons.

Grapevine leaves

Additionally, you can feed your worms grapevine leaves. Offer them crisp, green leaves whenever possible. Although this is a good food source, not just about anybody can access it. This can be a terrific go-to snack to provide your worms if you do chance to live close to a winery or have your own grapevine.

Dandelion leaves

Also a favorite food of these worms are dandelion leaves. Since dandelion is a beneficial herb that is frequently used in tea and other healthful dishes, these leaves won’t poison your worms. Dandelion leaves only pose a risk if they have been exposed to weed killers, which can harm your worms.


Hornworms don’t directly drink water; instead, they obtain all the water they require from the food they eat. They’re prone to drowning. You can lightly sprinkle some meals, like leaves, with water to make sure your worms get enough to drink.

Diet Variations

If hornworms are lacking in protein or moisture, they may go cannibalistic and try to consume other worms or each other. In most circumstances, they don’t eat insects, but in some severe cases, they will devour one another.

How to Feed Hornworms?

How to Feed Hornworms?

By placing your hornworms on top of a grit sheet, their droppings can be readily separated for easy cleaning, which is the best approach to keep them fed and clean.

In a perfect world, you would feed your hornworms a meal that was composed of 85% moisture, 10% protein, 3% fiber, and 2% fat.

You can simply add a lot of leafy greens together with a small amount of freshly cut veggies each day to achieve this.

What Do Hornworms Eat In The Wild?

Due to their propensity to swarm to crops and eat on commodities like potatoes, moonflowers, eggplant, tobacco, and tomatoes, hornworms are frequently referred to be pests. They can only eat what they can find in the wild, thus they tend to hang out near agricultural regions or other places where there are food sources, such mulberry trees.

What do Baby Hornworms Eat?

Although they may require softer meals, baby hornworms consume the same fundamental diet as adult hornworms. Since the moment they hatch, they have an eager appetite. Young hornworms should be fed on soft leaves and moist, fresh vegetables, sometimes known as “hornworm chow.”

How Much Do Hornworms Eat?

Hornworms have a large daily food intake. If they have access to enough food, they can nearly double in size in a day at warm temperatures of 82 degrees F.

Each hornworm will typically consume 1 oz of hornworm chow while it is a pupa. You will need 1 pound of prepared meal to produce 16 hornworms.

How Often Should Hornworms Eat?

Every day, hornworms require fresh food. They will perish if they go even one day without sustenance. Adding new leaves to their cage each day is the greatest approach to provide them with nourishment. Young hornworms require more frequent feedings because they need more fluids to stay hydrated.

Can Humans Eat Hornworms?

The category of edible insects includes these worms. The insects can be boiled, fried, or dried before consumption. However, it’s crucial to avoid consuming any hornworm. If they eat tobacco or tomato leaves, they can turn hazardous. Hornworm eaters claim that the flavor of these insects is quite similar to the kind of food or plant they consume. Some claim the flavor of these worms is similar to that of crab, shrimp, and green tomatoes.


What will hornworms turn into?

Hornworms’ adult stages are large, powerful flying insects known as sphinx or hawk moths. However, certain local species are referred to as “hummingbird moths” in popular culture. In flight, these moths resemble hummingbirds on the surface, and they both eat from flowers with deep lobes.

Can hornworms harm you?

The caterpillars have no venom and cannot bite or sting. If crushing these enormous insects makes you uncomfortable, you can drop them into soapy water or, if you have a flock of hens, feed them to them.

What happens if you touch a tomato hornworm?

A bigger image of the tomato hornworm caterpillar is available. When handled, ominous-looking tomato hornworms may wiggle frantically, but their “horns” are harmless. They are only an effort at concealment.

Can you pick up a tomato hornworm?

Pick worms by hand. You may frequently eradicate hornworms by handpicking them off of plants because they are typically not in big quantities (the horn is harmless). Put them in soapy water or, if you have chickens, feed them to them.

Why are hornworms toxic?

Toxic if consumed by your pet, wild hornworms gather and store the toxin in the plants they feed on (tomatoes and tobacco).


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author