Tobacco Hornworm on Tomato Plants

Subject:  Do you do Caterpillars?
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
July 13, 2015
Alien on our tomato plant. About 5″ long. ?

Tobacco Hornworm
Tobacco Hornworm

Dear Sarah,
There are two related, similar looking caterpillars that feed on the leaves and occasionally the fruit of tomatoes.  You have the Tobacco Hornworm,
Manduca sexta, the larva of the Carolina Sphinx, which according to BugGuide, can be recognized by:  ” 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 caterpillar of the similar looking Tomato Hornworm, the caterpillar of the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, can be distinguished from the previous, according to BugGuide, because:  “The caterpillar has eight v-shaped stripes rather than the seven diagonal stripes of the similar Tobacco Hornworm (larva of Carolina Sphinx). The horn is also straight and blue-black rather than orange, yellow red. Unfortunately many images of these caterpillars found on the internet are misidentified. “

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