Look what flew into our kitchen this evening…
Location: Louisville, CO
August 26, 2011 11:32 pm
We had a visitor this evening. The wing span was about 5”. It settled down long enough for me to take a picture with my camera phone, and then Lisa put it back outside safely.
Our next door neighbor has been gifting us with their overflowing bounty of incredibly delicious tomatoes. Lisa suspects that the caterpillar it came from was one that feeds on tomatoes and that it is a hawk moth of some sort.
Good Morning Daniel,
Lisa is correct. This is Manduca sexta, and its common name, Carolina Sphinx, is deceptive because it ranges well beyond the Carolinas. To further add to the confusion, the larva of the Carolina Sphinx is commonly called the Tobacco Hornworm, though it is found on tomato plants and other native solanaceous plants like Jimsonweed and Nightshade outside of tobacco country. You can read more about the Carolina Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website. Another similar looking member of the genus is Manduca quinquemaculata, and its caterpillar is known as the Tomato Hornworm. They are so similar in both appearance and habits to the Tobacco Hornworm that many home gardeners do not distinguish between the two species.