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The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No. The horn on the tail end appears to be only for show.

  • What does it eat? Tomatoes, tobacco, and many other plants.

  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes -- this species can be a serious pest.

  • Is it rare? No, very common, even in cities.

  • What does it turn into? A big strong moth known as a "hawk moth."

  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, without much difficulty.

  • Control: try dusting with diatomaceous earth.


These huge caterpillars can be found chowing down on your tomato plants, often to the point where the entire plant is eaten. Tobacco and tomato hornworms are very similar and often eat both plants, as well as sweet potatoes and other crops. They produce similar moths: huge brown bombers that are such good fliers they have earned the nickname "hawk moths." There are many other species that are similar in appearance to these pest species, with a similar natural history -- except they don't eat your tomatoes. instead, these big caterpillars can be found on grape, ash, and just about any other plant there is. They all turn into big, strong moths that most people never get a chance to see because they fly at night.

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Manduca quinquemaculata

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