Subject: Hornworm being attacked by Paper Wasps
Location: Miami, FL, USA
April 4, 2013 4:04 pm
I saw a half dozen paper wasps attacking the head of a fairly large hornworm. Have you ever heard of this behavior? (I cannot imagine them carrying it off, it was 4 inches long).
Signature: Steve W.
This Tobacco Hornworm appears to be eating a tomato plant, and it has “oblique whitish lateral lines”, so we suspect it might be Manduca sexta, the Carolina Sphinx. See BugGuide for additional information. The Paper Wasps are in the genus Polistes. Paper Wasps will attack caterpillars and skin them, transporting the balled up flesh to the nest where it is fed to the developing larvae. They do not intend to carry off this Tobacco Hornworm. We suspect they will work as a crew and bite off sections of the Tobacco Hornworm to carry it off to the nest.