Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tomato Hornworm or Tabacco Hornworm?

This is either a tobacco hornworm or tomato hornworm. I believe it's the former, because it has seven white stripes and a red horn.

It's an amazing looking creature. Click on the photo to enlarge it. It has a fake eye below each white stripe. It also has a face on its rear end (the end with the red horn). 

The tobacco hornworm is the larval stage of the beautiful Sphinx moth. I'm very fond of the moths, which become active as the sun goes down. I have many 4-o'clocks and a few daturas in my garden, so the Sphinx moth is a common visitor. Today when I went into my garden for the first time since last Monday, I found one of my fall tomato plants defoliated, with two large hornworms who look as though they're getting pretty close to the point where they will drop off the plant and burrow into the soil to pupate over winter. The other tomato plants are fine. I took one of the worms off the plant and gave it to the chickens to eat, but I left one there. What the heck. The plant is already ruined -- there's no way it can recover and produce tomatoes before the first frost -- and I'll be glad to have the moths in the garden.

1 comment:

  1. I was tickled to read this. I keep summer pots of red pentas on my porches for the butterflies and to attract hummingbirds to the feeders above. And every summer one or more of my pots are defoliated.

    I find the caterpillars before the plant is completely bare but usually let the cats be--for the same reasons you left one.

    My pentas re-leaf in time. And I have the pleasure of sitting on my porch in the evening and watching moths hover in my garden.