Tomato Hornworm

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.

1 thought on “Tomato Hornworm”

  1. I wonder if your friend ever finished her report or if her notes are still safe? I’m from near St George UT. Came here 40 years ago and at that time there still a few Paiute elders who spoke English as a second language. That one old lady used to have access to people’s tomato patches. She would go in there and gather these caterpillars. She would squeeze the guts out and drop the good part into her bucket. I never did hear how they are cooked but i will guess they are parched or toasted.
    Sometimes i see these “hornworms” on Datura plants and i wonder what she would have to say about that.


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