what kind of caterpiller is this ???????
i found this catapiller on a bell pepper plant in my yard in jacksonville NC..was wondering what are the white things on it and what type is it and does it turn into a butterfly??
julie – jacksonville nc

Hi Julie,
Your Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar, Manduca sexta, has been parasitized by a Brachonid Wasp that laid her eggs inside the caterpillar. The larval wasps fed on non-vital tissues and have now formed pupae of the surface of the caterpillar. The pupae will hatch into adult wasps and the caterpillar will die, never maturing into an adult Hawkmoth, the Carolina Sphinx. According to BugGuide: “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 Tomato Hornworm, Maduca quinquemaculata, has eight v-shaped stripes and a straight blue-black horn. These caterpillars are often confused and misidentified.” Growing up, we referred to this as a Tomato Hornworm or Tomato Bug. We have received numerous images of Brachonid parasitized caterpillars recently, and are posting your letter and image as an excellent example.

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Location: Jacksonville, North Carolina

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