Currently viewing the tag: "Tomato Bugs"

Subject:  bug with debris on top
Geographic location of the bug:  southeast Louisiana
Date: 06/03/2020
Time: 08:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  There were three of these critters on a tomato plant this May.  At first I just though they were large frass or small bird dropings.  On a closer look, I saw there were leg-like projections. I gently teased the debris off of one and discovered a beautiful, delicite being with what looked like a smiling frog face staring up at me.
How you want your letter signed:  Art

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Dear Art,
This is the larva of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, and the debris on its back is fecal matter and it thought to act as camouflage or protection for the larva.  Here is a BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide food plants include:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae)” and tomatoes are in the family Solanaceae.

Subject:  Huge caterpillar!
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern California
Date: 07/26/2019
Time: 03:09 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I have never seen this large of a caterpillar ever, not in the great outdoors nor in a museum! It was happily munching on our green tomatoes. It was 3/4” thick and almost 3 inches long. Was incredible! Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Aimee

Tobacco Hornworm

Dear Aimee,
Have you been growing tomatoes for many years?  Most gardeners who grow tomatoes are familiar with the Tobacco Hornworm, the larva of the Carolina Sphinx,
Manduca sexta, which feeds on the leaves and occasionally fruit of tomatoes and other related plants.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for this! I have, but have never seen a caterpillar like this! 🙂 Are both moths and butterflies called “caterpillars” in this stage?
Thank you,
Hi again Aimee,
The larvae of both butterflies and moths are commonly called caterpillars, but some caterpillars have more specific names like the Hornworms of the family Sphingidae, the group to which your Tobacco Hornworm belongs, and that name refers to the caudal horn found on many members of the family.  After the caterpillar stage, both butterflies and moths have a pupal stage, commonly called a chrysalis for butterflies, and cocoon for a moth when the pupa is encased in a silken housing.  Generally speaking, the Caterpillars of moths are bigger than the caterpillars of butterflies, and some of the largest North American caterpillars are the Hickory Horned Devil and the Fig Sphinx caterpillar.  In Northern California, other large caterpillars you might encounter are the Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar and the Ceanothus Silkmoth Caterpillar.
Ah, I see, that is great to know. Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it!

Subject:  Tomato Hornworm?
Geographic location of the bug:  Hawthorn Woods, Illinois
Date: 10/19/2017
Time: 11:10 AM EDT
Hi, I found this in my garden, used your site to identify it being a tomato hornworm, and wanted to forward you the photos.  Have a great day!
How you want your letter signed:  Joe B.

Tobacco Hornworm

Dear Joe,
The average gardener probably doesn’t care that this is actually a Tobacco Hornworm,
Manduca sexta, since it looks so similar to a Tomato Hornworm and both species feed on the leaves and fruit of tomatoes and related plants in the garden.  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 looking Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, has eight v-shaped stripes and a straight blue-black horn. These caterpillars are often confused and misidentified.”

Tobacco Hornworm

Subject: Caterpillar or no?
Location: Charleston, SC
August 21, 2017 12:19 pm
A friend of mine sent out this picture wondering what kind of bug this is. I know it looks like a type of caterpillar but not sure the name of it.
Signature: Monica

Tobacco Hornworm

Dear Monica,
Even though, because of the cage, we are presuming it is feeding on a tomato plant, this caterpillar is commonly called a Tobacco Hornworm.  Here is a BugGuide image.  It is the caterpillar of a Carolina Sphinx,
Manduca sexta.

Subject: bug on tomato
Location: Sacramento, California
August 14, 2017 12:39 pm
Suddenly quite a few of these. On tomatoes only. Sacramento, California.
Signature: BugTomatoes

Mating Western Leaf Footed Bugs

Dear BugTomatoes,
These are mating Western Leaf Footed Bugs, and you do not want them proliferating on your tomatoes.  They have piercing mouthparts that suck fluids from plants, including ripe tomatoes.  They inject an enzyme that makes the fruit unpalatable to humans.

Subject: Sphinx moth or tomato?
Location: SW New Mexico – near Silvercity
February 7, 2017 9:01 am
Greetings, I thought this was a sphinx moth caterpillar but someone else suggested it was a tomato worm. BTW – there were definitely sphinx moths out the same day that I took this photo. But there was also a different kind of horn worm out there also.
Signature: Narglyph

Tomato Hornworm

Dear Narglyph,
Sphinx Moth Caterpillars and “Tomato Worms” are not mutually exclusive because several species of Sphinx Moths have larvae that feed on tomato and other plants in the family, and the larvae are known as Hornworms.  Your individual appears to be the dark form of
Manduca quinquemaculata, the Five Spotted Hawkmoth and its larva is known as the Tomato Hornworm which appears in both green and dark forms.  You can compare your individual to this very dark individual pictured on BugGuide.

Thanks – I took the photo a while ago and I didn’t get pictures of what it was feeding on. A friend is writing an archaeological report on sphinx moths and datura and wanted to make sure she was getting the photos labeled correctly. I will pass on the info to you.