This time of year I get a lot of questions about “difficult to control” tobacco budworms. My first question is always: How close to topping is the grower? If plants are flowering, there is absolutely no need to treat tobacco budworm infestations. If a grower is within two weeks or less of topping, there is no reason to treat tobacco budworms. Why? Because tobacco budworm larvae preferentially feed on flowers and developing seed pods when present, not on leaves. Even if there is some leaf feeding, these leaves will likely be removed during topping.
Bottom line, if you are topping or near topping, don’t treat for tobacco budworm.