aka Tomato Hornworm, which becomes
the Five-Spotted Hawkmoth
Did your tomato or bell pepper plant suddenly lose many of its leaves and under the plant you see dark brown droppings? Then you have been hit by a varmit called the Tomato Hornworm. Often there will be several of these caterpillars working on the same tomato, sweet bell pepper or tobacco plant at the same time. They can decimate a plant overnight.
The caterpillars are very hard to see as their camouflage is very good.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this critter:
Species: M. quinquemaculata
Sphinx 5-maculatus Haworth, 1803
Phlegethontius celeus Hübner, 1821
Protoparce quinquemaculatus wirti Schaus, 1927
Manduca quinquemaculata From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Five-Spotted Hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata) is a brown and gray hawk moth of the Sphingidae family. The caterpillar is often referred to as the tomato Hornworm and can be a major pest in gardens. Tomato Hornworm are closely related to (and sometimes confused with) the tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta). This confusion arises because caterpillars of both species feed on the foliage of various plants from the family Solanaceae, so either species can be found on tobacco or tomato leaves, and the plant on which the caterpillar is found does not indicate its species. The larvae of these species can be distinguished by their lateral markings; tomato Hornworm have eight V-shaped markings while tobacco Hornworm have seven diagonal lines. Furthermore, the caterpillars can be distinguished from the larval stage onwards by the color of the horns on their back ends: M. quinquemaculata caterpillars have black horns, while Manduca sexta caterpillars have red horns. The moths can be distinguished by the number of spots on their abdomen, with M. quinquemaculata having five.
M. quinquemaculata is found throughout the United States, northwestern Mexico, and even southern Canada, but is less frequently found throughout the Great Plains and the southeast.
Tomato hornworms are known to eat various plants from the family Solanaceae, commonly attacking tomato, eggplant, pepper, tobacco, moonflowers and potato. Accordingly, tomato hornworms are often found on defoliated tomato plants, the caterpillar clinging to the underside of a branch near the trunk. They are difficult to spot due to their green coloration. Gardeners' anecdotes have mentioned the use of a blacklight to find the hornworms on tomato plants at night, where they glow under the ultraviolet. They can be reduced by planting marigold flowers around these plants.
Hornworm eggs are spherical to oval in shape, measure about 1.5 mm (0.059 in) in diameter, and vary in color from light green to white. Eggs are deposited principally on the lower surface of foliage, but also on the upper surface. Duration of the egg stage is two to eight days, but averages five days.
The tomato hornworm is a green caterpillar, with eight, v-shaped markings on its side and has a black horn on its rear just as other hornworms. It also looks like it has 7 eyes on each side. Caterpillars can be prey to the parasitoid wasp Braconidae.
During the summer months, moths will emerge from pupae in about 2 weeks. Moths emerge from the soil, mate, and then begin to deposit the eggs of the next generation on tomato plants. By early fall, the pupae will remain in the soil all winter and emerge as a moth the following spring
|Sweet Bell Peppers eaten by Tomato Worm
in one night
|Tomato Worm on Tomato Plant usually much more camouflaged||Tomato Worm castings dropped on ground under plant||Adult Manduca quinquemaculata Hawkmoth||Tomato Worm on Tomato plant stem showing slant marks and red horn|
PHOTO CREDITS for photos above:
Photos ** by Terrell William "Terry" Proctor, J.D.
Photos ^^ Courtesy Wikipedia website http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Manduca_quinquemaculata
Photo ## Courtesy http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.duke.edu/~jspippen/naturephotos/tomato-hornworm
Du&zoom=1&q=&usg=__kgzlieEfGCDNgBLUK51uwgG8ryU= this 2005 copyright photo by Jeffrey Pippen included in the above site.
Photo ~~ Courtesy Michigan Sportsman website: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.michigan-sportsman.com /photopost/uploads/6066/thief.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php %3Ft%3D386974&h=275&w=183&sz=0&tbnid=9H3SmeYU28gaOM:&tbnh=0&tbnw=0&prev=/search% 3Fq%3D%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=&usg=__awb7OBrURn3UVMiwUTd3Od0xLZI=
Credit is hereby given to Wikipedia's website on this subject from which much of the material herein is used.
^ CATE Creating a Taxonomic eScience - Sphingidae
^ a b c Villanueva, Raul (June 1998). "Tobacco Hornworm". http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/field/hornworm.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
External links from Wikipedia:
Tomato Hornworm Kansas State University guide
The Tomato Hornworms Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County
Manduca quinquemaculata, Butterflies and Moths of North America
tomato hornworm on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site
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