I've always approached hornworms with a mix of awe and hate. They really are pretty when they get big, but they're also amazingly destructive. I spent the afternoon out in the garden scanning leaves for poo, and then looking for damage. That is the best way I've found to actually zero in on their location at least.
This guy was the biggest of the bunch, and he had obviously done the most damage. He was actually very hard to pull off as he had his feet stuck to one of the support strings. It amazed me how strong such a little bug could be.
These five display the range of sizes that you might find when they are younger. I'm happy to say none of them made it to full size before I nabbed them.
The big guys had defoliated whole branches, while the smallest one had just eaten part of a leaf. Definitely best to get them while they're small!
This hornworm has been parasitized, and he was the last one I found out in the garden today. I left him right where he was, as I want a large a wasp population as possible. I could, in theory, just leave all the worms out there and hope they all get parasitized. I like to stick to the rule that if they find them before I can then they stay put.
The hornworm egg that I'd been watching was actually parasitized, and you can tell this because its turn dark black. I'm really happy to see this, as it is even better than when they're parasitized once they're larger. This way there is no damage to the tomatoes. The downside is since I was using this as my warning to start looking for hornworms I didn't catch the first batch before they did some damage.