Monday, May 28, 2012

A Terrible Tomato Terror

Common Name: Tobacco Hornworm
Scientific Name: Manduca sexta

I've been watching very diligently for this critter to show itself, and sure enough this morning I found evidence of his arrival. The Tobacco Hornworm is often confused with, and more often incorrectly called, a Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata).
The Tobacco Hornworm is a pest of tomatoes , as is the Tomato Hornworm, and can do significant damage to your plants in just one night.The caterpillars of both species are green, but that's only one similarity.

Our caterpillar pictured here has diagonal white and black stripes, where Tomato Hornworm has yellow horizontal "V" markings on their sides.

Evidence of damage is leaf stripping. DON'T look for any other kind of damage. They also leave evidence of their poop pellets on leaves that aren't yet eaten.

Typical behavior is that this caterpillar rests on the undersides of leaves, so start looking there.

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