Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tomato Hornworm

Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata)The potted tomato plants are still growing and producing lots of tomatoes. Is it any wonder then that there are tomato hornworms about? The horn is on the rear end of the worm. These are caterpillars of hawk moths, and so may possibly be the progeny of the hummingbird moth or a close relative. There are several hornworms crawling around on the tomato plants. Soon most of the leaves will be eaten if the worms are not removed. Handpicking is the easiest way to remove them, they are slow moving and fairly easy to spot on the undersides of the leaves. No insecticides or chemicals are needed. But for this one, I do not even have to do that. The white cylindrical attachments are cocoons of a predatory wasp. When the cocoons hatch the caterpillar will die and the wasps will go on to lay eggs on other tomato hornworms and repeat the cycle. A very interesting situation to observe.


  1. Oh my, that's gross. Some of these posts should have a warning label. I'm not sure I can finish my coffee now.

  2. You mean the wasp doesn't even kill the poor caterpillar first? That's just cold, Nature.

    And wasps make cocoons? This is some weird stuff over here in Habitat Home.