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Home > Bugs > Bugs of Vegetables > Hornworms

Tomato Hornworm—Manduca quinquemaculata

Tobacco Hornworm—M. sexta

Tomato and tobacco hornworms are large caterpillars, up to 4 inches long. Their name comes from the prominent "horn" on the rear. They are difficult to see, tend to be active at night, and consume large amounts of foliage, so they may do a lot of damage before being detected. They feed primarily on solanaceous plants: tobacco, tomato, eggplant, pepper, potato and certain weeds. The adults do not do any damage.


tomato hornworm larvae tobacco hornworm larvae parasitized hornworm
Tomato hornworm larvae have eight V-shaped marks on each side and a blue-black horn. Tobacco hornworm larvae are green with seven diagonal white lines on the sides and a curved red horn. Hornworm larvae parasitized by the braconid wasp should be left alone. The wasp will kill the individual and lay eggs in others.
tomato hornworm adult hornworm larvae
The adult of the tomato hornworm is the five-spotted hawk moth. The adult of the tobacco hornworm is the sphinx moth. Hornworm larvae are very difficult to see and may do a lot of damage before being detected.

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[Photos, left to right: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,; Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia,; Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,; Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey,; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Slide Set, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company,; Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.