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Are Hornworms Poisonous? (Read This First!)

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Hornworms, a type of caterpillar that you are likely to see in almost all backyards and gardens, raise several questions regarding their toxicity.

While these worms are very common and you are most likely to find one in your yard, people have been often concerned about whether hornworms are poisonous.

In this article, we are going to explore different aspects of hornworms. Read ahead to find out whether hornworms are poisonous for humans, dogs, cats, and more.

Are hornworms poisonous?

Hornworms are not poisonous in general. But they can prove to be toxic in certain circumstances. Such as, if your pet ingests too many hornworms, without your supervision then it may turn out to be poisonous. That said, you can easily pick up a hornworm without any threat as they do not sting.

Generally speaking, hornworms are not poisonous. But in certain situations, they may turn out to be toxic. For example, they may not be poisonous for a human to pick up but they may harm your pets. Different animals react differently to hornworms.

Let us take a look at whether hornworms are poisonous for certain animals and species.


No, hornworms are not poisonous for humans. In fact, they are considered absolutely harmless when it comes to humans. You are most likely to find hornworms in your yards and gardens. They crawl on tomato plants very frequently.

But you can pick up a hornworm without any worry. They do not sting humans. And even if they do end up stinging you, hornworms are not poisonous for humans.


Yes, hornworms may be poisonous for your dog. The thing about hornworms is that they collect toxins from the plants on which they survive, such as the tomato plants. These toxins end up making the hornworms toxic.

So hornworms may prove to be toxic if anyone ingests them. So you should be careful to not allow your dog to ingest a hornworm. The toxins stored in the caterpillar may hurt your dog.


Chickens enjoy feeding on caterpillars, including hornworms. But hornworms may be poisonous for chickens.

Hornworms store toxins that they have collected from plants. These toxins will cause harm to chickens if they eat a hornworm. The chickens may experience indigestion problems among other issues.


Yes, hornworms are poisonous for cats if they ingest them. Hornworms collect and store toxins from the plants on which they live. So they can pass on the toxins to other animals if they ingest the hornworms.

Cats tend to eat hornworms when they find one in the yard. So it is better to keep cats away from the hornworms because they are likely to be poisonous for cats.


Hornworms are not deemed as an immediate danger for fishes. They would not bite on a fish or sting them. In addition, you can feed hornworms to fish.

Hornworms are not poisonous to fish. You can use these caterpillars for fishing and feeding fish. But make sure to not feed too many hornworms to fish, as they contain a certain level of toxin.


No, hornworms are not poisonous for ducks. Ducks enjoy hunting and eating hornworms from yards and gardens. It will not cause them any harm, rest assured.


Hornworms are not poisonous to birds. Birds can feed on hornworms without experiencing the trouble of any sort. In fact, it is one of their favorite foods.

Hornworms are often readily available as bird food. They are found on plants such as tomatoes, and birds catch them from the ground. These caterpillars will not harm any bird.

Bearded dragons:

Hornworms are not poisonous for bearded dragons. You can feed your bearded dragon with plenty of hornworms without any worry.

However, you should be careful because hornworms do not contain enough nutritional value. So you might want to pair these caterpillars with some other insects, preferably with the ones that contain higher levels of proteins


Chameleons can eat hornworms. They are not poisonous for them.

In fact, it works as a good source of moisture for chameleons. But make sure to feed chameleons with these caterpillars while they are alive.


Hornworms are not poisonous for lizards. However, it is best to not allow them to eat too many hornworms as they contain some toxins. These toxins have been collected from the plants on which the caterpillars lived.

Are the horns on hornworms dangerous?

There are two types of hornworms, largely known as tomato hornworms and tobacco hornworms. Both of them are similar in build and appearance. Hornworms have horns on their bodies.

The tomato hornworms have black horns on their body. On the other hand, tobacco hornworms have red horns on their bodies.

Rest assured that these horns will not sting humans if you pick these worms up. The horns won’t even hurt animals when they try to eat the worms. The horns on hornworms are not dangerous. The horns will bend if you touch them, they don’t sting.

Are hornworms safe to hold?

Yes, hornworms are safe to hold. You will not be hurt if you try to hold a hornworm on your palm.

The bodies of hornworms are covered with horns. They may look sharp but these horns are not dangerous. They do not sting when you hold them. Instead, the horns will simply bend when they come in contact with anything.

Do hornworms bite?

No, hornworms do not bite. They also do not sting anyone. These caterpillars are unable to physically hurt another being.

However, they are able to cause damage to the plants on which they live. Moreover, these caterpillars may prove to be toxic when pets ingest too many hornworms as they collect toxins from plants.

Hornworms are the most damaging when they are in their larval stage. In this stage, they have a green body covered with black marks. In addition, their body is covered with horns. None of it is designed to harm or bite you.

That said, hornworms do not bite or sting anyone. You can easily hold one in your palm without feeling any discomfort. They tread very lightly.

Do hornworms make good pets?

Hornworms do not make good pets as they have a very short span. On average, a hornworm lives for about 2 to 3 weeks, which is relatively a very short life span.

However, you can consider hornworms as food for your pets, including fish, birds, ducks, and more. These caterpillars do not have any outer shell, which makes them incredibly easy to digest for pets.

Your pet will have an easy time swallowing and digesting hornworms. In addition, they have great moisture content, so your pet will be well hydrated when they eat hornworms.

But you’ll have to make sure to pair hornworms with some other worms as they have low protein content.

What animal eats hornworms?

A wide range of animals eats hornworms. You can feed the following animals with hornworms: leopard geckos, scorpions, tarantulas, bearded dragons, birds, amphibians, and more.

Hornworms make great food for animals. They do not have any outer shell. So animals have an easy time digesting these worms.

In addition, hornworms are a great source of moisture. They will keep the animals well hydrated for a while.

But note that hornworms are low in fat and protein content. So animals cannot solely rely on hornworms for food.

How do you get rid of hornworms naturally?

If you have a hornworm infestation in your garden, there are several ways by which you can get rid of hornworms naturally. There is no need to use chemicals if you don’t want to.

Take equal parts soap and water in a container. Mix them well. Make sure that the soap is completely diluted. Then you will have to spray the soap water onto your garden or yard.

If you can spot the plants on which the hornworms are living, then you should spray the soap water directly onto those plants. This mixture will help you get rid of hornworms naturally.

How to find tomato hornworms at night?

Hornworms are also referred to as tomato hornworms. They are typically found on top of tomato plants. If you’re looking for hornworms at night, look at the top of the tomato plants in your garden.

Also, take a look under the leaves of the plant. You should be able to spot some moving green markings with black spots on their body. This is how to find tomato hornworms at night.

Final thoughts:

Hornworms are not generally labeled as poisonous. They do not sting. But they contain a certain level of toxicity as they collect toxins from plants. However, the toxin level is not harmful to many animals. While they are not poisonous to humans, be careful to not allow pets to ingest hornworms.

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