Tomato horn worm and a killer?
Location: South-Eastern Michigan
August 19, 2010 1:49 pm
I took this picture in my garden today, I was told that the caterpillar is known as a Tomato Horn Worm. I was wondering what kind of moth or butterfly does this caterpillar turn into (if it turns into one at all) and what are the white larvae on it’s body?
Thank you so much.
Curious about Critters
Dear Curious about Critters,
You caterpillar appears to be a Tobacco Hornworm, not a Tomato Hornworm, a funny distinction since both feed on tomato and other solanaceous plants. According to BugGuide, the two may be distinguished from one another by: “Larva: large green body; dorsal “horn” (usually curved and orange, pink or red) on terminal abdominal segment; up to seven oblique whitish lateral lines, edged with black on upper borders. The similar looking Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, has eight v-shaped stripes and a straight blue-black horn. These caterpillars are often confused and misidentified.” The cocoons belong to pupal Braconid Wasps which tomato feeding Manduca caterpillars. This parasitized caterpillar will not mature, but if it had not become a living feast for the parasites, it would have buried itself in the ground to metamorphose into a juglike pupa (see BugGuide), and then emerged an adult Hawkmoth with narrow gray, patterned wings and yellow spots on the body (see bugGuide).