So we found 3 of these in the soil of our vegetable garden. In case location info helps, we live in Orange County, California about 4 miles from the beach and our soil has a lot of clay. The only things I’ve seen large enough to come from this are what are commonly called tomatoe worms here, or potato bugs. We saw a couple potato bugs in the garden last year but I haven’t been able to find any information about their life cycle, so I guess my question is two-fold: what is this chrysalis, and if it’s not a potato bug, what is the life cycle of a potato bug?

Hi Linda,
You have a pupa from the Tomato Hornworm, also known as the Tobacco Sphinx, Manduca sexta. The large green caterpillars you find on your tomato plants bury themselves in the dirt and pupate into the form you have dug up. They emerge as large moths, lay eggs and begin the cycle again.

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Location: Orange County, California

One Response to Tomato Hornworm

  1. Richard says:

    I wonder if your friend ever finished her report or if her notes are still safe? I’m from near St George UT. Came here 40 years ago and at that time there still a few Paiute elders who spoke English as a second language. That one old lady used to have access to people’s tomato patches. She would go in there and gather these caterpillars. She would squeeze the guts out and drop the good part into her bucket. I never did hear how they are cooked but i will guess they are parched or toasted.
    Sometimes i see these “hornworms” on Datura plants and i wonder what she would have to say about that.

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