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Five-Spotted Hawkmoth or Tomato Hornworm, green form - Manduca quinquemaculatus

Five-Spotted Hawkmoth or Tomato Hornworm, green form - Manduca quinquemaculatus
Hidden Corners Sanctuary, Town of Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin, USA
August 16, 2002
Found about 50 of these larvae eating our tomato plants...both green and black forms. We gently removed most of them and placed them on surrounding wild plants of the Nightshade family, like Clammy Ground-Cherry and Bittersweet Nightshade.

Tomato hornworm
I found this fellow yesterday on my tomato plant. I had never seen such a large caterpillar. My husband knew it was a tomato worm. I brought him in to take to school (I'm a teacher.) on Monday, but I may put him back out so he won't die. From this site, I learned that they bore into the ground to enter the cocoon stage. Any idea how deep? Would it be possible to have this happen in a container, so my students could witness the process?

Yes, you can do it
although at this time of year it might go into diapause (winter resting state) so you might have to take care of it till next Spring, which is the trickiest part of raising lepidoptera. You should give it several ( at least 3 - 6) inches of loose soil and leaf litter to burrow into. See also my article on raising caterpillars, reached by clicking on my name.

Raising my caterpillar
Thank you for your reference to your article. It was very helpful. I live in Lubbock, Texas. The temps are still in the 80s most afternoons and high 60s in the mornings. Do you think it will wait until spring to emerge?

If you have a tomato hornworm
the latest image we have from TX is in September - see the data map. If you have the similar Tobacco hornworm, we have no dates available for TX here, but the latest for anywhere is also September. You might conceivably get an adult this fall, but I certainly wouldn't count on it.

My guy must be the tobacco hornworm. It has a red horn. It had been barely moving, but this AM my husband found it crawling rapidly about 15 feet away from the box in which I had kept it. I put it back but it kept circling around the bottom of the box very rapidly. I took it back outside and put it on the tomato plant and watched. It crawled down and started across the ground. When it started to burrow, I dug around it and transferred it and about four inches the dirt and leaves to a large metal bowl. It has not resurfaced. If I "peek" at it, will I mess up anything in the coccooning process? I'd like to get a picture for my students.

Unfortunately, peeking can damage the pupa
- so if you do dig it up, you shouldn't rebury it. I learned this from one of our experts, Tony Thomas - you can see his comments by clicking on my Imperial Moth pupa, below.

We do have sphingidae pupa images on this site, if you just want the kids to know what one looks like. Here's one I dug up (before I knew better):

Unfortunately I don't remember what I did with it after that. I don't seem to have an adult image, though, which is a bad sign.

accidental comment - please ignore

Nice addition to the guide
- we've been waiting for one of these for a long time!

Five-Spotted Hawkmoth Larva, green form
Janice J. Stiefel I'm glad the photo can be appreciated. When we had 50 of those larvae on our tomatoes, only three of them were green, the rest were black forms. I later found that I should have reported and sent a specimen of the adult to my moth expert in Madison, WI, because there had not been a record of that species in Door Co. since 1933. I thought it was a common problem on tomatoes and probably is....but through all these years, no one thought to report it...including me!

Five-Spotted Hawkmoth or Tomato Hornworm
Janice J. Stiefel This is the Tomato Hornworm, not Tobacco Hornworm. The Tomato Hornworm has a black horn; the Tobacco Hornworm has a red horn. Doesn't make sense to me, but whoever named them wasn't thinking about the color of the horns. Seems the red horn should go with the Tomato Hornworm, but that would make it too easy. Tomato plants are host plants for both species, from personal experience and most of the references I have recorded. I should probably go back and add Tomato Hornworm to the Five-Spotted Hawkmoth larval photo. Will do that tomorrow. Thanks for the inquiry.

Yes, that's what I meant.
Sorry, I should have included the scientific name for clarity. But what I meant to say was, if you look up the other species (Manduca sexta/Tobacco Hornworm) here, you'll see we currently have a LOT more images of that one on tomato plants than this one.

It may be common,
but it seems that "Tobacco hornworm" is even more commonly found on tomatoes, judging by the images we have collected.

Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms
Janice J. Stiefel Hi Hannah! It's weird, I only found Manduca sexta once in Sheboygan Co. in 1994 on our tomato plants. My photo does not show the red horn real clearly, so I didn't bother posting it. I wish they would come to our tomato plants in Door Co., because I'd like a better photo of the larva. Manduca quinquemaculata larvae only appeared in 2002. Haven't seen them since. Other people have complained about hornworms on their tomatoes, but I never bothered to check them out. Guess I'll have to do that in the future.

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