Can Chickens Eat Hornworms? Get the Facts Check Here

Do you want to feed your chickens several worms because you know they’re full of protein and nutrients? Do you have doubts about whether hornworms can be eaten by chickens? In this blog, you’ll learn everything you need to know about giving hornworms to your hens as a treat. 

If you keep chickens, you know how much they like scratching around in the dirt. Chickens use a pecking motion called “rooting” to dig for worms and other meals. 

Chickens enjoy a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates in their diet, while worms are a particular favorite. What about hornworms, though? Do hens have any interest in the big worms that are sold as feeders in most pet shops? We hope to find the solution for this in the comments section. 

How Do Hornworms Work? 

Hawk moths of the genus Manduca produce caterpillars known as hornworms. It’s important to note that these caterpillars come in two different varieties: 

  • Manduca sexta, the “Goliath worm” that feeds on tobacco. 
  • Manduca quinquemaculata, the “tomato hornworm.” 

Tobacco Hornworms

These are hornworms most likely to invade your garden. The sides of tobacco hornworms are marked with seven distinct diagonal lines. Its scarlet, spiky tail will be an identifying feature. This caterpillar gets its moniker from the spike or ‘horn’ on its head. Tobacco hornworms are primarily tomato & tobacco plant feeders in the wild. 

Tomato Hornworms 

While tobacco hornworms are similar, their tomato counterparts are distinct. Tomato hornworms are distinguished by a black spike on their tail as well as a V-shaped mark on the back instead of a diagonal line. Tobacco & tomato plants are the primary feeding sources for both pests.

Can Chickens Eat Hornworms

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Do Chickens like Hornworms? 

It’s okay to feed hornworms to hens. In fact, many people believe that picking the caterpillars off the leaves & feeding them to hens is the most effective way to get rid of an epidemic of this green bug. To be sure, this isn’t always the best course of action. 

Toxins can be consumed and stored by hornworms while they munch on your tomato plants, which can be harmful if there are enough of them to poison your hens. 

Therefore, even if hornworms are plentiful in your garden, you should only get them from reputable pet stores and never collect them from the wild. 

Chickens can get a lot of nutrition from eating a few hornworms. Inasmuch as hornworms lack the whole nutritional profile necessary to sustain a chicken, they cannot serve as the birds’ major source of food. 

Nutritional Benefits of Hornworms

Chickens can benefit greatly from eating hornworms. They are rich in protein as well as calcium and iron and low in fat. In addition, they provide an exceptional water supply. 

  • Hydration

The given data shows that hornworms are 85 percent water. Thus, they are an ideal source of moisture for the diets of most pets, including geckos, lizards, and hens. If you feed your hens these worms, they’ll drink a lot less water. 

In the summer, when the weather is hot and the hens are at risk of dehydration, hornworms can be fed to them. Feeding them these worms will help them maintain a healthy body temperature, increase their activity level, and improve their fitness. 

  • Rigid Bones 

Hornworms have one of the greatest ratios of calcium to weight among similar feeder worms, with 464 milligrams per kilogram. These birds’ skeletons depend heavily on calcium. Chickens need calcium to maintain strong beaks & nails. 

To lay eggs successfully, laying hens need plenty of calcium. Calcium carbonate makes up the bulk of an egg’s protective shell. Calcium supplements are recommended for laying hens by veterinarians, but hornworms can accomplish the same goal with much less effort.

Can Chickens Eat Hornworms

Feeding Guide of Hornworms for a Chicken –

If you wish to feed hornworms to the chickens, here are some things to bear in mind: 

  • Purchase container-bred worms

Worms purchased from a trustworthy breeder or a well-known internet retailer are completely safe to feed. These hornworms are not raised on tomato or tobacco plants like traditional ones, but rather using other non-toxic materials. 

  • Mix them in the meal instead of separately 

Mix the worms in with the other bugs & worms and chicken food. Having this capability simplifies feeding them. Be careful not to overdo it with the hornworms, since the hens may start ignoring the other food in the meal if there are too many. 

Hornworms for Baby Chickens – 

Tomato hornworms & tobacco hornworms can both be safely consumed by newborn chicks. Chicks can benefit from eating the worms because of their high calcium, protein, & water content. 

Since chicks can’t peck at them, worms are best fed to them in mashed form along with other foods. Hornworms can only be fed in their larval stage since adult hornworms are too huge to chew through the food. 

Other Worms That Chickens Can Eat

Because of their omnivorous nature, chickens may eat a wide variety of worms. Worms are a healthy part of a chicken’s diet, and some common ones are: 

  • Earthworms 
  • Hornworms 

Here are two additional worm species that may be beneficial to your chickens. 

  • Mealworms 

Due to their high protein content, mealworms are a good choice for both young chicks & laying hens. Chickens won’t care if the worms are alive or frozen—they’ll gladly peck at them either way. 

  • Silkworms 

Being one of the finest insects for birds, silkworms can make a great supplement to the chicken’s diet. 

They are rich in vitamins B1, B2, & B3 in addition to calcium, protein, & iron. More than that, these worms are mild and simple to chew. 


Can Ducks and Chickens Eat Hornworms? 

Both ducks and hens will eat hornworms if given the chance. Worms provide protein, calcium, & moisture, so both these birds would benefit from including them in their diets. Don’t ever bother feeding your birds any hornworms you’ve caught in the wild; instead, stick to the store-bought variety. 

Are Hornworms Poisonous to Birds? 

It is possible that wild hornworms ingested tomato plants or leaves from other nightshade family plants, which contain poisons that are harmful to birds. In order to feel the effects of the toxins, they would need to consume a large number of these worms. 

How do you get Rid of Hornworms Naturally?

When it comes to getting rid of hornworms from plant leaves, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is among the most effective insecticides. 

This microorganism is widely available for purchase at grocery stores and pet supply shops. Hornworm-infested leaves need to be sprayed with this solution. The spray will have an instantaneous effect and wipe them off. 

Submerging them in soapy water is another effective method. Ladybugs and lacewings are just a couple examples of beneficial insects that could be released to help in the extermination process. 

What Can I do with Extra Hornworms?

Nurture the hornworms as pets because they require little care and watch the hummingbird moths emerge. The mature moths can then be used to produce more hornworms, which can be sold as pet food. 

When Do You Feed The Hornworms? 

An excessive amount of hornworms in the chickens’ diet is not recommended. Chickens that eat too many of these worms may have gastrointestinal distress because of their size. Each chicken should ideally have just one or two worms to eat. The worms can be eaten as a treat every once in a while. 


Hornworms are a fantastic source of protein and other nutrients for chickens, so feel free to include them in their diets. Avoid feeding wild-caught hornworms to your hornworms and then only acquire them from trustworthy sources. As always, we appreciate you taking the time to read this.

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