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Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar


The tobacco hornworm caterpillar, manduca sexta, is often confused with the tomato hornworm caterpillar.  They look quite similar, but the tobacco hornworm larva can be identified by the black edge against the white stripes and their red horn.   The tomato hornworm larva has white v-shaped stripes that are edged in green and their horn is also green.  These tobacco hornworms can grow to be over 3" in length and they are quite plump bodied.  In their adult form they are commonly known as the Carolina Sphinx Moth.


To many people, the tobacco hornworm caterpillar is a garden pest, but to me he is an awesome little creature.  I think this caterpillar is amazing.  The first year I planted tomatoes these caterpillars destroyed my plants, but that was OK with me.  I became fascinated with them and watched them all the time.   I tried to take pictures of them daily.  It's was amazing how big these things got.  The next year I planted some more tomato plants hoping that these caterpillars would visit me again, and it worked.  One even ate my peppers, as you can see in the picture below.  I found it funny that I was able to hear it chew on the crunchy vegetable.  When it felt threatened by my presence it would rear its "head" back to look scary.  There are spots located on both sides of it's body, near the head area, that look like eyes.  His little head is actually scrunched up next to it's true legs (front legs).  He might have looked frightening to a real predator, but to me he reminded me of a begging dog.  






Tobacco Hornworm on Tomato Plant Puzzle





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